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Editor’s Note: This post is part two of our three-part series that showcases incoming students. As we’re posting this article, these incoming students are beginning shopping week, during which students are welcome to drop in to as many classes as they want before they finalize their schedules for the semester. This is part two of a three-part series—you can also check out part one and part three.

Urmila Kutikkad, MTS ‘22 studying grief, body, and trauma within South Asian religious traditions 

At HDS, I am hoping to focus on themes of grief, body, & ritual as they play out in the spheres of gender/sexuality and South Asian studies. Much of this draws on work that I have been doing in the past year for progressive Hindu organizations (Sadhana and Hindus for Human Rights), as well as a prison abolition/restorative justice NGO in Bangalore. Although my relationship with faith growing up was fraught, I’ve gotten space to breathe and explore faith on my own terms in the past few years. Through this process, I have seen some of the most radical and beautiful social justice work being done on the grounds of faith, and my hopes of deepening this sort of work within Hinduism caused me to apply to HDS. 

Jordan Venditelli, MDiv ‘23, studying sexuality and disability 

I focus on queer and crip (disability) theories and theologies, as well as ways to make spirituality more accessible to marginalized identities. I applied to HDS because I deeply appreciate the community that HDS has fostered, especially its commitment to diversity and pluralism. For me, it was a no-brainer that I wanted to be steeped in an academic setting that would push me outside of my comfort zone, introduce me to new ideas and ways of living, and surround me with a rich community. This summer, I have been enjoying a “retired” pace of life cooking, reading all of the books that have been on my wishlist, and trying new crafts! 

Seth Ahmetmu Biwul, MTS ‘22 focusing on Religion, Ethics, and Politics

I am pursuing an MTS in Religion, Ethics, and Politics at HDS for two reasons (among several others). (1) The world-class lecturers at HDS, their academic prowess, and their legacy in critical reflection and quality scholarship will be advantageous in preparing me for a prodigious impact within the shores of Africa and beyond. And (2) the robust nature of HDS, which allows for cross-disciplinary engagement and course offerings will grant me the needed platform for an interdisciplinary study of religion.  
My summer has been a mix of navigating life amidst a (resurging) pandemic, some random readings, engaging some hobbies, a little research work, and a self-guided endeavor to learning French (needless to say, it has been slow).