Meet the 2016-2017 Admissions Office Graduate Assistants: 

Greetings from the 2016-2017 HDS Office of Admissions Graduate Assistants! Recently, we had a virtual conversation about HDS, working in the Office of Admissions, and pies. We hope this gives you some insight on how students live and work at HDS; we look forward to interacting with the 2016-2017 applicants this year!

-Brittany Landorf, MTS ‘18, Samantha Melton, MDiv ‘19, Sujay Pandit, MTS ‘18


From Left to Right: Brittany Landorf, Samantha Melton, and Sujay Pandit

Who we are: 

SP: My name is Sujay Pandit, and I am incoming MTS student here at HDS. My concentration is Religion, Ethics, and Politics and I am interested in exploring the intersections between disaster research and religion in the United States.

BL:  My name is Brittany Landorf, and I’m also an incoming MTS student at HDS.  I am studying Islamic Studies with a focus on Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Islam.  I am interested in studying modern social movements and female spiritual leaders in Islam through the lens of feminist and queer critical theories.

SM: Hi Friends! My name is Samm Melton, and I am currently a first year M.Div. candidate at HDS, currently in the ordination process with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). I am particularly interested in social justice issues within the church the congregational response to these issues and have a passion for mental health advocacy within the church.

Why are you here/what brought you here?

SP: I came to HDS after recently completing my Ph.D. in Performance Studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. As part of my research, I became fascinated with the role that individual and communal religious experiences play in the aftermath of a crisis. I wanted to learn more about how religion and faith correlate to local and global experiences of disaster.

BL: As an undergraduate at Macalester College, I came to Religious Studies while studying International Studies and Arabic Language.  I found that Religious Studies offered an interdisciplinary approach that gave me a deeper understanding of Islam.  I became interested in the lived experience of piety Muslim people, specifically young Muslim women, performed in their daily lives.  After graduating from undergrad, I spent a year in Turkey on a Fulbright English Teaching Fellowship.  That experience helped me realize my interest in deepening my understanding of Islam from the intersection of religious studies and feminist and critical gender theories.

SM: Although I have considered ministry since high school, oddly enough, my journey to Divinity School started while I was a barista at a local non-profit coffee shop in high school. An unlikely scene to spark my interests, this coffee shop doubled as an interfaith community that had a passion for social justice and sparked my interest in the intersection of faith and social justice. Throughout undergrad, I spent the majority of my summer in Limpopo, South Africa, learning and working towards a sustainable ministry. As a psychology major, the value of mental health within the church, combined with my passion for social justice, and a call to ministry rooted in an interfaith space, led me to study at a multireligious divinity school.

What do we do as Graduate Assistants at HDS?

SP: As Graduate Assistants, we are in charge of working with the Office of Admissions on a variety of tasks. Each day brings new surprises! For example, in one day, I can be juggling working as a tour guide for prospective students, using my graphic design skills to create flyers or presentations, or answering prospective students’ emails and phone calls to our office. Since no day is typical, I am always eager to learn new skills and add them to my HDS tool belt.

BL:  My favorite part of being a Graduate Assistant at HDS is speaking to and meeting prospective students.  When I was applying, the GAs offered incredible advice and insight into the academic programs and community at HDS.  In addition to helping prospective students, we help host on and off-campus admissions events and facilitate conversations between current and incoming students.

SM: I would agree with Brittany and Sujay. Our typical day can vary pretty drastically. However, nothing brightens my day like meeting and speaking with prospective students. Since I’ve recently been through the admission process, I love hearing about where students are hoping their education can take them, as well as connecting them with the many resources here at HDS.

What is one thing we are excited for this year? 

SP: I am excited to experience Theological Education Day 2016 (T.E.D.) and the Diversity and Explorations Program (DivEx) because I was unable to attend those events when I was applying to HDS. Now, I’ll get the chance to see how the Office of Admissions organizes and executes these two exciting events!

BL:  I am also very excited for T.E.D. and DivEx.  I cannot wait to meet the prospective applicants and help show them around HDS’ campus!  In the spring, I am looking forward to organizing our Open House for incoming students.

SM: As a recent DivEx Alum, I am most excited to share in the DivEx experience with prospective students this year, particularly since my DivEx experience became such an integral part of my discernment process. I too am also excited for the Open House for incoming students, as I look forward to campus coming alive as we welcome new students and prepare for a new year.

What do we like about the community? 

SP: I enjoy the diversity here at HDS.  This diversity extends beyond the classroom walls, and I see it in the Office of Admissions. It is thrilling to work in an office surrounded by people with diverse perspectives on religion, academia, faith and spirituality. Most importantly, I wanted my time at HDS to prepare me with academic and also practical skills, and working as a GA helps me keep some balance to all the theoretical work I do in my coursework.

BL: Working in the Admissions Office has helped me develop a deeper understanding of the HDS community.  It is wonderful to see the Divinity School’s emphasis on fostering diverse and intentional spiritual communities extend to all aspects of the school.

SM: The Admissions Office has also helped me to develop a deeper understanding of the community of HDS. The diversity of the community is truly mirrored in the vast array of activities, community events, and students groups that HDS has to offer. Simply by walking around campus, you can truly feel how tight-knit this community is and their commitment to one another.

Favorite moment at HDS, thus far?

SP: Too many to count! One stands out: my supervisor and Assistant Director of Admissions, Sarah Guzy, brought us decadently rich pie to our first GA meeting of the semester!

BL: We went candlestick bowling for our office retreat at my favorite pizza place. It was a great way to bond with everyone and show off our bowling skills!

SM: There so many, but mine would likely have to be meeting with the Innovative Ministries group. It’s incredibly exciting and inspiring to hear the innovative ways in which people are seeking to do ministry!

Favorite pie?

SP: 3.14159

BL: Apple!!!! Or Rhubarb, it depends on the time of the year.

SM: Nothing beats a homemade pie of any type!

We can’t wait to connect with you as you discern if HDS is the right place for you, and move through the application process.  Contact us via email at ask_students@hds.harvard.edu or call us at 617-495-0639!