After graduating from John R. Lewis High School in Springfield, Virginia, Nelia Beth Scovill spent three semesters at George Mason University (Fairfax, Virginia) and transferred to Oregon State University (Corvallis, Oregon). Nelia Beth earned her bachelor’s degree in religious studies with minors in technical journalism and business administration. Her favorite business courses were accounting and organizational behavior.
Nelia Beth earned a M.Div. degree from Union Theological Seminary after deciding to purse a career in higher education as a religious studies professor. While at Union, she worked in the seminary’s public relations office and in the development office at the Center for Constitutional Rights. She spent a year interning at the Political Asylum Project of Austin (now American Gateways) working with co-founders of the pro-bono legal aid organization.
Nelia Beth’s master’s thesis, titled “Sojourners in Our Midst: An Application of Karen Lebacqz' Approach to Justice” explored a liberationist theory of justice through her internship experiences. Three highlights of her time at Union were serving as a third-grade Sunday school teacher at The Riverside Church in the City of New York, working on the U.S. movie premier of The Handmaid’s Tale (a benefit for CCR), and falling in love and marrying Joel J. Heim.
During her Ph.D. work in religion and social ethics at the University of Southern California, Nelia Beth was ordained into the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She served as Associate Pastor of Membership and Evangelism and Interim Co-Pastor at Wilshire Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). As a graduate student, Nelia Beth wrote The Liberation of Women: Religious Sources for the 1995 United Nations Women's Conference in Beijing, China. Her dissertation, titled From Responsible Reproduction to Just Procreation: Towards A Protestant Social Ethic of Pro-creation, traced the reversal of U.S. mainline Protestant moral assessment of contraception from complete condemnation in the late 1800s to a moral obligation in the late 1980s.
As Assistant Professor at Carroll University, Nelia Beth designed and taught courses in world religions, Christian theology, Christian and philosophical ethics and first year studies. In addition to taking on advising of first-year students and teaching first-year seminar courses, Nelia Beth chaired the General Education Committee and served on the Institutional Review Board. While at Carroll, she wrote a “Women’s Full Participation in the Public Sphere: Implications of the Protestant Doctrines of Creation and Salvation” for the World Conference on Religion and Peace in Amman, Jordan.
In the Fall 2005, Nelia Beth became the First Year Seminar Curriculum Coordinator at Marian University, Fond du lac, WI. As part of the Title III grant team charged with transforming the the first-year experience of students in- and outside the classroom, Nelia Beth worked to increase the graduation rate of first-generation college student’s. Nelia Beth had primary responsibility for the development, implementation, and continuous improvement of an innovative first-year seminar program that introduced students to the liberal arts disciplines, critical thinking, and college-level reading.
After being “downsized” twice from higher education and trying to make a living as an adjunct, Nelia Beth joined the healthcare information technology sector. She began by training physicians at a five-hospital implementation of a new electronic health record and now works at Ascension as a certified ClinDoc Epic analyst and Certified Scrum Master.