Three divinity students participate in fourth annual MACHE Bowl

by C. Mark Batten, Office of Communications

On March 19, Monica Banks (MDiv ’17), Nikki Scheidecker (MDiv ’17), and Sophia Russell (MDiv ’18) joined three interdisciplinary teams of graduate students from Appalachian State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Winston-Salem State University, Wake Forest University, and the Wake Forest School of Medicine to compete during the fourth annual MACHE Bowl.

Presented by the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity, the event fosters interactive conversation about health disparities affecting communities. Each team is given a fictional health care case prior to the event to craft an analysis and response about the case. On the day of the event each team presents their responses to a panel of judges comprised of faculty members of the participating universities. A second round follows where teams are given more information about the case and have twenty minutes to formulate responses. The event also featured a keynote address from Cornell P. Wright, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities. This year’s MACHE Bowl was co-sponsored by Gramercy Research Group and Novo Nordisk.

Students from the School of Divinity have participated in the MACHE Bowl since the event’s inception in 2012. Banks, Scheidecker, and Russell were selected because of their interest and commitment to understanding how faith communities can engage and help address complex social factors related to health and well-being.


Front Row: Monica Banks, Nikki Scheidecker, Sophia Russell; Back Row: Mark Jensen


“They represented the School of Divinity well,” said Mark Jensen, Teaching Professor of Pastoral Care and Pastoral Theology and a member of the panel of the judges. “Their passion, commitment, leadership, and team-building skills were clear and on display. Each team demonstrated capacities to get outside the silos of isolated disciplinary perspectives in order to build collaborative responses to multi-layered issues of community health.”

Scheidecker, a second-year student, was a member of the team who won the competition. She said the experience reinforced her desire to enter into chaplaincy. “My team members were unware of the role of a chaplain in a crisis situation when called to work with a family in a hospital setting. I was able to share how chaplains are involved and my team members came away with an expanded understanding of ministry.”

Russell, a first-year student, has worked as a coordinator of a mobile health clinic and teaches courses on health disparities. She says the fictional case of this year’s MACHE Bowl simulated true cases she had experienced in her work. “This competition provided an opportunity for me to engage in the type of interdisciplinary conversations that should occur more often in academic institutions, faith groups, healthcare professionals, and community agencies.”

Through its academic programs and community engagement opportunities, the School of Divinity provides an integrative multi-disciplinary approach to theological education. Through concentrated studies in faith and health of the public, the school partners with several divisions of Wake Forest Medical Center to equip religious leaders to lead congregations and faith-based organizations to create strategies for improving individual and community health. Every year students also complete internships in public settings that focus on disability accommodation, advocacy for victims of sexual assault, community supported agriculture, and child welfare.

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