Post by: Natalie Solis, MTS 2021
Read on to learn about HDS’ Diversity and Explorations Program as well as Theological Education Dayfrom DivEx alum and current student, Natalie Solis. Please see the bottom of this post for more information about DivEx and TED.
Whether you have dreamt about going to HDS for years or are still discerning whether Divinity School is the right path for you, the Diversity and Explorations program is an extremely helpful introduction to HDS. Just one year ago, I was getting ready for DivEx. Now, I am pursuing my MTS with a concentration in Religions of the Americas and working as a Graduate Assistant at the HDS Office of Admissions. DivEx was a crucial part of my journey to HDS. As a first-generation college student and religion major at the University of Southern California, I learned about HDS early in my undergraduate career from professors who attended HDS. Since I am planning to pursue a career in academia, I sought out faculty advice when I was applying to graduate school last year. In speaking with HDS alum and USC Dean of Religious Life, Varun Soni, he encouraged me to apply to DivEx.
More than just a campus visit, DivEx enabled me to envision myself as a student here. Meeting with professors, students, and staff provided a glimpse into the HDS community. On the first day of DivEx, you will have time to meet the people in your cohort and learn about HDS in preparation for Theological Education Day. One of the most rewarding aspects of DivEx was meeting my cohort members and current students. I definitely encourage making connections with people during the program because they may become your future classmates or colleagues. The people I met at DivEx have become close friends at HDS and beyond.
The second day of DivEx coincides with Theological Education Day (TED), which is Harvard Divinity School’s annual Open House. During TED, you get to decide which courses, tours, panel discussions, and office hours with faculty you would like to attend. Since I was still deciding whether to apply to the MDiv or MTS program, I attended a panel discussion on HDS degree programs that clarified my discernment process. I visited Cornel West’s course, “Race and Modernity: W.E.B. Du Bois, James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry,” which I definitely recommend taking at some point during your time at Harvard.
The third day of DivEx consisted of workshops overviewing the HDS application process, which helped demystify various application components, such as the personal statement, essay, letters of recommendation, and the GRE. Applying to graduate school can feel like an overwhelming process, but gaining insight from fellow applicants, current students, and Admissions Representatives helps contextualize the process.
My favorite part of DivEx was the closing dinner. The dinner featured a keynote speech by Professor David Carrasco on ”Gifts from Mexico: Revitalizing Life Through the Day of the Dead Celebration.” As a Mexican American interested in studying Latinx spiritualities through culture and art, I resonated on personal and academic levels with Professor Carrasco’s lecture. A year later, Professor Carrasco is my academic advisor and I am taking his course, “Moctezuma’s Mexico: Then and Now
Reflecting on my experience, I am grateful for the Diversity and Explorations Program because it gave me a head start in experiencing what it is like to be a Harvard Divinity School student. We are looking forward to welcoming the 2018 DivEx cohort to campus soon!
Editor’s Note: Each year, HDS hosts our annual Diversity and Explorations Program (DivEx) designed for current undergraduates from underrepresented groups in the study of religion. If you are interested in this program, check out our website for more information on the program and how to apply for next year’s DivEx activities. We also offer Theological Education Day, our annual open house every November. You can find more information on our website, here. If you are hoping to apply for DivEx next year, please check back on our website this summer for the fall 2020 DivEx season application.