A person who goes ahead and discovers or shows others a path or way.
The definition is simple enough, but the work is complex. Pathfinding requires listening, connecting, and discerning skills and is not a job one does but instead is a gift one has.
Rev. Shannon Hancock’s title is Director of Admissions and Communications, but for Saint Paul, she is more than a recruiter and conveyer of information; she is a pathfinder. She is an ordained Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. She is the founder of the non-profit organization, The iMatter Experience, and an alumna of Saint Paul School of Theology (’10).
Rev. Hancock’s experiences at Saint Paul have been instrumental in her ability to build relationships, connect with potential students, and challenge them to explore their call. She can attest to the academic and spiritual shaping she received and is not shy about relaying her own experiences.
Her interactions with those seeking are genuine. If you are fortunate enough to see her work a recruiting event, her energy is amped and lends itself to both drawing in a crowd and connecting with each person. Very few leave her table without a new idea to ponder or sharper clarity.
Beyond her seminary work, Rev. Hancock finds some of her happiest moments when loving and inspiring youth to be their best selves. She has translated this call and joy into a thriving organization where girls are able to interact regularly with caring, supportive adults in safe spaces where “direction, not directives” is nourished.
The iMatter Experience offers a two-day themed experience where youth and their parent or guardians gather to share, explore, and discover together. This experience is enhanced by follow-up sessions aimed to “empower girls to transform the world.”
The theme for The iMatter Experience this year is Raise Your Voice: Learning the Power of Advocacy! Situated in a time of unrest in our country and communities, The iMatter Experience seeks to educate girls about their voice. The organization has emphasized the importance of combining their voice with strategic action, as evidenced by their Raise Your Voice: Art as Protest follow-up event. Girls and moms had an opportunity to hear from local artist Vivian Wilson Bluett, one of six artists of the Black Lives Matter Murals in Kansas City.
Bluett shared with the families the process and symbolism involved in creating the mural, as well as her personal path to becoming an artist. She stated, “When we don’t see what’s possible for us, we don’t think that far… I never even imagined art as a career as a kid because I never saw it. When you see people like you doing things, it allows your imagination to go that much further! Then you say, ‘I can do that!’ The goal is to further and further and further.” Girls and families present that day certainly took it further by creating a collective Raise Your Voice mural made on individual canvases.
Through this partnership, The iMatter Experience created another invaluable experience for girls to explore and discover a new path toward self-discovery.
Rev. Hancock’s gift of pathfinding means she spends her professional and personal time illuminating the journey for others. Her length of time journeying with individuals may vary, but her investment in caring for all is evident.
Thanks be to God for her willingness to share her gift at Saint Paul School of Theology and beyond.
Learn more about The iMatter Experience at imatterkc.com