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Intersections of Identity

Few people can claim that a 3 a.m. prank phone call changed their life, but for La Donna Pratt Forsgren (MA '05), heaven had the last laugh. La Donna and her sister, Monica, had seen a late-night ad for a free copy of the Book of Mormon. And so they ordered one as a joke. "We thought we were so incredibly funny—until two missionaries showed up," Forsgren says. This odd introduction to the Church led to her baptism at age 17 and eventual temple marriage.

Today a Latter-day Saint professor at Catholic Notre Dame University, Forsgren lives on the cusp of many identities. Raised in poverty, she is now an academic; she is an African-American woman married to a Caucasian man; naturally shy and introverted, she stands up in front of students. Her own experience defying stereotypes helps her reach out to the marginalized and forgotten.

After finishing her undergraduate degree at Western Oregon University and wanting to attend a rigorous program surrounded by faithful members of the Church, Forsgren began a master's in theatre and media arts at BYU. It was there that she met theatre-arts-studies professor Megan Sanborn Jones (BA '95), who drastically shaped her view of how to manage competing identities. 

"She became my first example of a faithful member who was also an artist, scholar, and mother. I realized at that point that the intersections of my identity were not irreconcilable." 

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