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Arlington resident honored at Andover Newton commencement

Debra Rose BrillatiBrillati

Debra Rose Brillati, a longtime resident of Arlington, was honored for outstanding academic achievements during commencement exercises at Andover Newton Theological School.

Brillati earned the Master of Arts in theological studies together with a certificate in interfaith leadership from Andover Newton and the certificate in religion and conflict transformation from the Boston Theological Institute.

She was honored with the Russell Chase Tuck Biblical Studies Award, which recognizes a student who has demonstrated excellence in biblical studies. Brillati was nominated for the award by the Rev. Dr. Simon Lee, assistant professor of New Testament and Christian origins; Dr. Carole R. Fontaine, Taylor Professor of Biblical Theology and History; and the Rev. Dr. Greg Mobley, professor of Christian Bible. The award, established in 1968, is named for a professor emeritus.

In addition, Brillati was awarded the Frederick Buechner Prize in Writing, which honors superb creative or academic writing. She was nominated by the faculty. The award, established in 2015, is endowed by the Frederick Buechner Center.

Brillati was also inducted into Andover Newton’s honors society, the Jonathan Edwards Society, named for the New England pastor and leading theologian of the Colonial era.

Members were nominated by the Rev. Dr. Mark S. Heim, Samuel Abbot Professor of Christian Theology, and the Rev. Dr. Greg Mobley, professor of Christian Bible, based on academic prowess and significant contributions in public service.

The graduate earned her bachelor’s degree in 1980 from Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. and a Master of Arts in teaching in 1992 from Tufts University.

Before her theological studies, she worked for more than 20 years at Fish & Richardson, P.C. in Boston, Mass. as a trademark specialist.

She is an active member of Church of Our Saviour Episcopal Church in Arlington and a member of the Board of Artsbridge Inc., an organization that brings Israeli and Palestinian students to the U.S. for a three-week intensive program that uses art and dialogue to foster understanding.

She is also active in several organizations working for peace and justice in the Middle East. After graduation Brillati plans to focus on writing and on developing and facilitating projects based on her model for using storytelling to transform conflicts.

Andover Newton Theological School, founded in 1807, is the first graduate school of any kind in America. Always an innovator in religious education, Andover Newton is internationally recognized as a leader in interfaith learning. For more information, visit

This announcement was published Wednesday, July 15, 2015.

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