Deirdre Reilly with her husband, Fred.
Deirdre Reilly with her husband, Fred.

Deirdre Reilly, who is pursuing a bachelor's degree in university studies with concentrations in English and psychology at Eastern New Mexico University, will release her non-fiction book, titled "The Pretend Christian: Traveling Beyond Denomination to the True Jesus" and published by Crosslink Publishing, this summer.

She discussed her book release, as well as her Eastern Experience, with the ENMU News.

deirdre reilly book cover
Deirdre Reilly with her husband, Fred

Tell us about your upcoming book.

My book "The Pretend Christian" is a look at my own faith journey and how I was a "pretend" Christian before I really understood both Christ's divinity and his humanity and how his sacrifice relates to me, thousands of years later. I also discuss what Christians can unwittingly do to turn off others and how to keep the "pilot light" of faith turned on. My ENMU Religion courses have been wonderful in helping me to prepare to represent the book and be able to answer readers' questions.

This is my second book. My first book was published in 2001 and was a collection of my syndicated humor columns entitled, "Exhausted Rapunzel: Tales of Modern Castle Life."

What was the reason you chose your field of study?

I am a returning undergraduate student — returning after almost 40 years away from the classroom! This is the easiest and most comprehensive route for me to take — going for the university studies degree. I began my journey at ENMU back in 1979. I graduated high school as a junior in Columbia, Maryland, and immediately enrolled in ENMU, all the way across the country! Looking back, I was not ready to be a college student; my grades were mostly average to poor. But I am proud to be finishing my degree at ENMU.

Why did you choose to attend ENMU?

Back in 1979, I chose ENMU because they were very good at recruiting and kept sending me brochures! I want to graduate with ENMU, where it all began because I feel it would "complete the circle" when it comes to education. And ENMU is very equipped to handle long-distance learning, with my advisor Yetta Massey being very responsive and the teachers being so consistently available and always helpful.

Which professors have helped mentor you during your time at ENMU?

I can't say enough about ENMU when it comes to online learning and continuing education. I encourage anyone thinking about going back to college, whether online or in person, to check out ENMU. I was so nervous when I first began, being older and feeling like my brain was mush, and Dr. Bob Schneider helped me with my schedule, and I also took his Global Business class. He made me feel very comfortable and welcome.

I think ENMU's Religion department is amazing — the quality of the teaching and the support and guidance to be found there is top-notch. Dr. Shirley Rollinson is inspiring to me — I don't think I've ever worked harder in a class in my life than I did for her History of Christianity class — and I'm taking Prophetic Literature of the Old Testament Prophets this semester, with Professor Gary Piepkorn, and I am learning so much. Shout-outs to "Doc" Elder in the History department and Dr. Michael Rizza of the English department, too.

deirdre reilly photo

What has been your favorite class at ENMU?

I would have to say History of Christianity because it was so challenging, and I learned so much. And it deepened not only my knowledge but my faith.

Where is your favorite place on the ENMU campus?

Since I live across the country, my favorite place on campus is my kitchen! Back in the day, when I was on campus, I loved the bridge that crosses the highway. I stood on that bridge many times when I was happy or sad.

What advice would you give to students who are interested in your field of study?

I would just love to encourage those who never finished their degree to think about it. It is never too late! And your appreciation for the chance to learn is so much deeper than it was when you were younger and had those stresses unique to the young. A degree improves you, no matter what age you are. So, I would say, stick a toe in the water and take one class at Eastern. They are here to help you!

Which academic honors have you received?

I have a 4.0 as a returning student, so I am proud of that, but I don't think I have any awards — not yet!

Which activities are you involved in outside of the virtual classroom?

I have already had a rewarding and varied career as a digital writer and editor. I have also hosted a major market radio show, and I've been on television in support of my work. I wrote a syndicated humor column for many years, and I am a member of the Christian Women in Media Association (CWIMA). Today, I write articles for crosswalk.com as well as other outlets.

What do you enjoy the most about being a Greyhound?

I am very loyal to our University, and I love being a Greyhound! My friends all enjoy my stories about attending college at my age. My favorite part is ordering my Greyhound swag — I love the sweatshirts! I'm representing ENMU back east.

deirdre reilly at e n m u
Deirdre and a friend in ENMUs football stadium about 1982.

Tell us about your family and background.

I was born in Durham, North Carolina, and raised in Columbia, Maryland. My mother was a teacher prior to being a homemaker, and my father served as an assistant Secretary of State and developed the US Refugee Program after the Vietnam War. I have one sister, Carole, who lives in Maryland and is an awesome aunt to my kids. I now live right outside Boston, Massachusetts — my husband of 35 years is a MA native. I have three grown sons, Fred, Matt, and James — I jokingly call James my "study buddy" because he is in college, too! I am very proud of all three of my sons.

What do you hope to ultimately achieve in your career?

I believe education never ends, and I also believe that age should not be a barrier to what we can achieve in life. I have always had a "can-do" attitude in terms of my writing career, and I hope to write more articles and books and mentor fledgling writers and new Christians, too.

What other dreams do you have?

Definitely travel! I want to see as much of the world as possible. I also hope to see my husband do some things he would like to do — like golfing at all the beautiful courses of the world — because he has always been so supportive of my dreams and is an amazing husband and father. I would love to go on a mission trip, as well.

What are your hobbies?

I love horseback riding, and I walk a lot, and I love reading. I also began golfing several years back, and although I am not a good golfer, I enjoy it.

Is there any additional information you would like to share website?

For more information on my book, feel free to visit my website or the book's Amazon listing.