Jack Jenkins '07 named 2020 Outstanding Young Alumnus

Jack Jenkins ’07 named 2020 Outstanding Young Alumnus

Jack Jenkins Presbyterian College Clinton SC Alumni Awards

“I’m not sure I ever decided on a path,” said Jack Jenkins ’07.

“Heck, I worked on political campaigns after graduation, then attended Harvard Divinity School, and ended up interning as a religion journalist before taking it up full time. Literally none of those decisions were things I even remotely considered until the very end of my time at PC, if at all.”

Although his career paths may not have been clear to him during his time at PC, Jenkins has been named the 2020 Outstanding Young Alumnus for the path he HAS taken since graduating from PC.

The award recognizes an alumnus under 40 years of age, as the award year begins, for early competence within the chosen field of endeavor and exceptional promise of future achievement.

“But my Blue Hose brain never saw my experiences as incongruous,” Jenkins said about what he’s done since earning his degree from PC.

“I often joke that most of those decisions happened by accident, but that’s not entirely true. My experiences at PC not only sparked my interest in all of those paths, but also in many ways prepared me to thrive in them.”

Right after graduating from PC, Jenkins worked on then-candidate Barack Obama’s first campaign for President. After the election, Jenkins went on to Harvard Divinity School to earn a Master of Divinity.

From there he went to work as senior writer and researcher for the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress. Then he jumped to  senior religion reporter for ThinkProgress, a politics-focused media outlet, for three years.

Jenkins now works at Religion News Service as their national reporter covering religion and politics. An award-winning journalist, Jenkins’ stories and analysis from all over the globe have been published in the Washington Post, Atlantic, Associated Press, National Catholic Reporter, and others.

He’s also been cited or featured in the New York Times, National Public Radio, Wall Street Journal, New Yorker, CNN, MSNBC, and other top media outlets. Jenkins was also interviewed and featured in a Netflix docu-series, The Family.

He is a regular guest on radio shows and podcasts, including ABC, BBC, various NPR affiliates, Sirius XM, Vox.com’s Today Explained podcast, and many others.

Jenkins’ recently published book, American Prophets: The Religious Roots of Progressive Politics and the Ongoing Fight for the Soul of the Country, has gotten rave reviews from Publishers Weekly, Commonweal Magazine, National Catholic Reporter, New York Journal of Books, and others.

Jenkins majored in history and religion/philosophy at PC. He chose the majors after deciding he wanted to learn more about his faith, taking “Love and Friendship” philosophy class, and going on a Maymester trip to the British Isles.

“I was consumed with the idea that history — and, as I came to learn, religion and philosophy — was ultimately about stories and real people, and I wanted to know everything about them that I could,” Jenkins said.

“One of my favorite things about PC is that leaders flat-out encouraged students to follow their passions and explore different subjects as they see fit.

“Some might call that an unfocused approach, but that critique misses what I see to be the core value of a liberal arts education: It teaches you how to adapt and think in a myriad of different spaces that may seem disconnected, but are in fact tied together in innumerable ways — a hyper-useful skill in today’s world, where change is a constant.”