As you deliberate on your plans for the upcoming academic year, you might be curious about how our current students decided to commit to HDS. Below, second year MTS student Cody Musselman reflects on how her experience at our Admitted Students Open House confirmed that she would thrive here at HDS.
In the spring of 2013, I arrived in Boston for the Admitted Students Open House at Harvard Divinity School. I was nervous and still unsure about whether or not I should attend in the fall. I was fortunate to have other offers and to be in the position of finding the best fit for my ambitions, interests, lifestyle, and personality. It was a wonderful, yet overwhelming position to be in. Visiting the schools in person, I had decided, was the best way to determine the proper fit.
I was well aware of the merits of Harvard Divinity School. Still, I needed to determine if it was the kind of place that I could commit to for the next two years. During my visit, indicators that I should choose HDS became illuminated: My best friend lived in Boston—living and studying close to her would be a big plus. While staying with her I met an HDS alumnus. He was an easy talker and spoke of the faculty and staff with such familiarity that I was able to catch a glimpse of the HDS community that exists behind the academics and the program requirements. His apartment was available for sublet, by the way, in case I needed a place to stay while taking classes through the Summer Language Program. Steps towards a future here appeared to be falling into place.
While drifting from one information session to another, I ran into a young woman from my undergraduate institution. She was also here for the Open House. Together we discussed mutual friends and former professors and weighed the pros and cons of attending HDS. The pros were adding up: renowned professors, friendly staff, and incredible library collections. Plus, we were thrilled by the college-town vibe and urban opportunities of Boston.
Finally, I attended a lunch with current students. I chose to sit at a table with a man who had the kind of beard that leaves an impression and a warm and inviting smile. His temperament was relaxed and easy as he told me about his positive experiences as a Masters of Divinity student. How is it possible, I wondered, that a Harvard graduate student could appear so stress-free and afford so much time to talk with me? He was in no rush and proceeded to ask me a lot of questions about myself. I talked about ultimate Frisbee. He mentioned that HDS had a team, cleverly named “Veri-toss.” We bonded over environmentalism and a shared love of the outdoors. He snapped into networking mode when I told him about my Mennonite background. “Have you met Arianne?” he asked, “she’s also a Mennonite. You two should talk.” We never even got around to discussing my academic interests in American religious history and material culture. As our conversation came to a close, he stood up to leave with his compostable plate in hand and a soda for the road. Then he casually said, “You’ll fit right in here.” And there it was: an affirmation of the feeling that had been mounting throughout my visit. I could fit in here. I could belong here.