Meeting Ms. Rees

Jonathan Kho '23

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Recently, I met with our new Reverend, Ms. Rees, where we discussed her past jobs and experiences working as a lawyer and a priest as well as her excitement for working at SSSAS this year. 


J: Where are you from?


Ms. Rees: I’m most recently from Alexandria, I've been here for, let’s see, 21 years. But I was originally from Maryland, Columbia, Maryland. My dad’s still there which is nice, nobody really knows this but Columbia was a planned community, so it was intended to be this, kind of, ideal community where everyone of every race and everyone of every income level could live in the same place. 


J: What do you like to do in your free time?


Ms. Rees:  I like being outdoors, hiking, and traveling, so it's been a little sad during the pandemic to not do quite as much of that. But this past summer, we went on a trip to Sedona, Arizona for a week and did some traveling around there to the Grand Canyon. I've also got family members in Houston, so we went to Texas and did a lot of hiking and sightseeing. That was really fun.


J: What did you used to do? 


Ms. Rees: I went to law school and worked as a lawyer for about 10 years. So I worked for two different judges, both in Atlanta, I went to Emory for law school. So I worked for a federal District court judge and a Federal Circuit Court Judge, and also worked at a firm that had offices in different places. So I lived for one year in Los Angeles working for this firm, and then I think three years in DC working for them.


J: What branch of law did you go into? 


Ms. Rees: The division I was in in the firm was called Issues and Appeals, and they did federal court law, some Supreme Court stuff, too, when we got lucky. 


J: What was your most interesting case? 


Ms. Rees: I helped with a friend of the court in a case before the Supreme Court called Grutter v. Bollinger, which involved the University of Michigan arguing for the constitutionality of using affirmative action in its college admittance decisions. The brief (a written legal document that argues why one side is more likely to win) I helped with was for Stanford University -- Stanford wanted to submit a brief in support of U. Michigan from the angle of it's engineering program.  It was really interesting because we got to hear stories from engineering students with really unusual backgrounds, like a student who had created a way for them to heat lunches based on solar-power.


J: So how did you go from being a lawyer to being a Reverend?


Ms. Rees: I had been sort of thinking about being a lawyer, like it was really interesting and I loved a lot of pieces of it, but I had thought, well that was not where I was intended to be. And I was really involved in the church for a lot of years in my life. I was sitting in church one day, and the story that was being read was about Jesus telling disciples to follow him, and they got up immediately to follow him. And that word immediately stuck with me. I’ve been thinking a lot about maybe becoming a priest, and I was just sort of sitting on it, so that helped me start down the road towards it. 


J: Was it hard to go from being a lawyer to being a Reverend?


Ms. Rees: It's funny, it was such a relief. I've never missed the job itself. I was lucky that I went to Virginia seminary, which is right down the street, so logistically it was not a hard switch. Because I was able to, I didn't have to move. My family could stay put and keep doing their thing and nobody was uprooted to start this new adventure. So I was definitely luckier than a lot of my peers who moved everything. Some of them had to leave their families to start school or totally move on, you know, and they go to different schools and all the things that you would do to live. So I was very thankful that I did not have to do that. I don't know what would’ve happened if that had been required.


J: Did your family go against this decision? 


Ms. Rees: No, everybody was really supportive. I mean, my mom passed away before I ever was ordained so she sort of knew that I was thinking about it, but she wasn't really around for the big change. She sort of liked the idea that I was a lawyer, and I was helping the world succeed as a woman. And, you know, that generation had not been able to make that many decisions about what they wanted to do with their life. They were pretty limited. So for her, that was really neat. 


J: Why did you decide to come to SSSAS? 


Ms. Rees: I have been working as a priest in churches in the parish and I had two different churches. A piece of what I've done in the churches has always involved youth, not exclusively, but that's always been a part of my ministry. I have always really loved helping with youth groups and working with accolades and all of that, like the openness that I see in teenagers to ask questions, and to kind of be uncertain, and admit that really helps in building your gait. Like, the way of seeing things that are beyond black and white seems like a really neat time in life. So I was working in my previous church, and happened to see if there was an opening here. And just, I, you know, got excited about it and applied. 


J: I saw you used to work at St. Paul's church. Are there any similarities between working there and St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School?


Ms.Rees: So there's some St. Paul students that are here, and I’ve met a few St. Pauls parishioners who work within St. Stephens and St. Agnes like Ms. Adams and Father Cavanaugh. I’m still figuring out chapel because that’s worship but it’s a very different type of worship from what we do in church, so we’re still learning how that works and how I can be a part of all of that.