Margaret (Maggie) Potthoff

MDiv student


Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Des Moines, Iowa and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.

What education did you receive before coming to the University of Chicago Divinity School?

I double-majored in English and Religious Studies at Grinnell College in Iowa.

Why did you choose to attend Chicago?

Interested in issues of religion in public life, I chose to attend Chicago because it was here that I could receive a rigorous education in both ministry and public policy as a dual degree candidate at the Divinity School and at the Harris School. Specifically, I am interested in engaging faith-rooted perspectives in conversation with the vision of economic justice. I believe there is an important relationship between the two that is often overlooked by public leaders and policymakers, to the detriment of community improvement or progress. Chicago, both through its robust academic opportunities (field and coursework) and the University's wider urban setting, offered an ideal setting for me to explore this relationship, and to develop my vocabulary and challenge my sensibilities surrounding it.

Please detail any highlights of your academic work at Chicago thus far.

Though my coursework thus far has been considered introductory, I have enjoyed the ways in which the content of each course has already begun informing that of the others. For example, the bit of Biblical Hebrew I have learned since beginning here has made the play among the narratives analyzed in my introductory Hebrew Bible course all the more rich.

What activities do you participate in outside of the classroom? (community service, work, hobbies, etc.)

Prior to moving to Chicago, I lived in Los Angeles. There, I served as an organizer with a Los Angeles nonprofit, focused on faith-rooted support of workers' rights (working within religious communities and various labor unions to achieve this vision). I also was a religious educator for sixth and seventh grade Unitarian Universalist youth. Since moving to Chicago, I am working to find similar communities with which I can engage. I have prior experience in the legal and political fields, and also anticipate developing those as outside interests.

What do you plan to do after you have graduated from Chicago?

At this point, I feel called to a ministry directed toward strengthening interfaith action around social justice work. Whether that is working in a civil capacity or as a community minister, I plan to help be part of dialogue and action that takes seriously faith perspectives with the vision of creating a more informed public and better public decisions.