After Katelyn Beaty ’06 graduated from Calvin, she spent a capstone semester abroad at Oxford University to study theology in the rarefied air that C.S. Lewis once breathed, and to contemplate the course of her career.
Upon her return, her job search quickly yielded a ground-floor editorial assistant position at Christianity Today, the flagship evangelical periodical published in Carol Stream, Ill. Little more than five years later, at the age of 28, Beaty was appointed last October to the post of Christianity Today’s managing editor, becoming the first female and youngest-ever to oversee the publication’s daily editorial operations.
She credits her expansive and challenging Calvin education for preparing her well for the job, previously the domain of mostly dark-suited, middle-aged males.
“Calvin was a revelation to me,” she said. “It was all about the academics and the integration of faith and learning. The ability to critically engage as a Christian is fundamental to what I’m doing now. My experiences at Calvin set the groundwork for my work today.”
Beaty hopes to attract a greater number of next-generation and female readers and writers to the magazine, envisioning an editorial approach that sets a “thoughtful and charitable tone” and encouraging the publication to “continue being a big tent with wide boundaries” for evangelical readers.
She majored in communications arts and sciences at Calvin and began exploring the engagement of faith and culture in her classwork and in her extracurricular activities on the Chimes staff and in the student activities office, where she worked part time for two years.
“I found my niche as a cultural discerner, learning from my professors and in my work for Ken Heffner in the student activities office about the ways in which we can engage the arts and culture from the Christian perspective,” Beaty recalled.
Heffner said Beaty, even as a sophomore, had an uncanny knack for “connecting the dots and wrestling with the big ideas of Calvin College and the implications they had for culture.” He added that now she is taking those ideas to a national platform both with the magazine and as a speaker, for example, at the Q Conference in Los Angeles this spring, where she presented “Beyond Pink Bibles: What Do Christian Women Want?”
Added Heffner: “The gears were always turning and Katelyn was always asking questions. I seek to push students by asking, ‘Do you know how to connect belief with doing, on the fly, any time and any place?’ Katelyn knows how to do that in a robust and integrated way.”
Her academic adviser at Calvin, CAS professor Chris Smit, also is an unabashed fan. “Katelyn’s success is as splendid as it is unsurprising,” he said. “She co-taught an interim course with me on gender and rock music when she was a senior at Calvin and absolutely shined. I’m delighted by her success and love seeing her work helping folks figure out God and His creation.”
Beaty had not heard of Calvin until she began her search for a Christian college. The daughter of devout United Methodist parents from Dayton, Ohio, she arranged for visits to Asbury, Calvin, Taylor and Wheaton. It was in a culturally quirky way that Calvin stood out among that group.
When Beaty’s Fridays-at-Calvin experience moved through the campus chapel, she observed cigarette butts in an ashtray just outside the chapel. The tour guide noted that Calvin is a Christian college where students are not required to sign behavioral “pledges” but instead are afforded “responsible freedom”—a distinction she found bracing, even though she was not herself a smoker.
“Calvin was different—it intrigued me,” she remembers. “I was looking at evangelical colleges because I wanted to experience an integration of faith in the classroom. Calvin was very serious about that. It also helped that Calvin’s communications building was practically brand new, and my younger brother came along for the visit and he really liked the food Calvin served.”
Once she experienced the heady enrichment of the Calvin academic experience, she was captivated. “Calvin helped me gain my footing and my perspective,” Beaty said. “I am passionate about words, for the worlds that they allow us to enter into, for what they allow us to comprehend, feel and experience without leaving a chair. And I am passionate about learning about our world and educating others about it through the lens of faith.”