Student Stories - Joe Simmons

Joseph Simmons is a 2nd year DPhil student in Theology. He talks about his learning experience at Campion Hall.


What do you enjoy the most about your DPhil?  

 I've enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow doctoral students in the Theology faculty, as well as the interdisciplinary conversations we have in-hall around meals and social events at Campion.  Before coming to Oxford, I had anticipated competitive vying or cold indifference.  But I was delighted to find that people here are genuinely interested in one another's projects, and that we are all in the same boat, so to speak.


What aspects of Campion Hall have you found to be conducive to your learning experience? 

 As a Jesuit community (of vowed Catholic religious), the rhythms of the hall are suited to individual quiet work, complemented by an available daily Mass and fellowship over meals.  Academic projects are carefully balanced by the social and spiritual dimensions of life that Oxford was founded to provide from the beginning.  The varied disciplines among students and fellows makes for engaging conversations that illuminate one another's work.  My thesis would look very different were it not for the welcome suggestions and creative input of fellow Campion members.


What’s a typical day like during term time? 

 Days vary depending on supervision and seminar schedules, even during term.  Students are entrusted to set their own rhythms for ~2/3 of the work day.  In general I skip breakfast, but will have coffee and morning prayer in my room.  Then I sit down at my desk and read or write until exercise before lunch.  After lunch and coffee conversations, I may go for a walk around Christ Church Meadow, or head to a seminar presentation, and then return to studies for another few hours.  Evening Mass and dinner is a nice decompression from the day's mental work.  Several of us students might watch a TV program together, or head out for a pint with a friend.  Having friends from other colleges means occasional formal dinners around Oxford, which is a nice change of pace.


Has your time here contributed to your personal growth, and if so how?

When you are responsible for your own daily schedule and academic progress, you learn quickly your own limitations and temptations to distraction!  On the bright side, it is rewarding when I reach a new milestone, or finish off a chapter section, because it demonstrates I still find my DPhil topic engaging.


What do you hope to do with your learning after you graduate? 

I plan to teach in the faculty of theology (and possibly English) at a Jesuit university, most likely in my native United States.


Describe Campion Hall in one word  


Explore Further