Post by Sarah Guzy, Assistant Director
Editor’s Note: Meet Sarah, the Assistant Director of HDS Admissions! Sarah supports prospective students and applicants in their divinity school search. Check out our upcoming webinars during which you can meet Sarah and other HDS folks virtually!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you want the HDS community & prospective students to know about you?
I’m originally from Evanston, just north of Chicago, and attended Kalamazoo College in Michigan for undergrad where I studied art history and religious studies. At Kzoo, my mentor was an HDS alum, and she encouraged me to consider applying to HDS for grad school in the future. I worked in international education for a few years, including a year spent in Costa Rica working at a study abroad program, and then came to HDS to do the MTS program in with an area of focus in Women, Gender, Sexuality, and Religion. I’ve been working in the Office of Admissions since graduating in 2015. I love puns, coffee, dogs, concerts, and reading.
We’re so excited to have a Q&A with another HDS alum who works in the Office of Admissions! What was your favorite part of attending HDS?
The classes I took at HDS were a highlight of my grad school experience. Getting to interact with so many brilliant and inquisitive classmates in small seminars, reading approximately 1 million books a week and getting insight from faculty who are at the top of their fields – it was incredible. My entire understanding of the world, and what it means to be a human in the world, shifted on a regular basis.
Can you share a memory that stands out from your time at HDS?
I was active in the Unitarian Universalist student group, HUUMS, while at HDS. One of my favorite memories was giving a sermon with my best friend from HDS on one of my favorite poems, Diving Into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich. I actually wrote about that experience in a blog post for this very same HDS Admissions blog when I was a Graduate Assistant here in 2014-15! Preparing a worship service and giving a sermon was something I never thought I would do, and it got me really far outside of my comfort zone. It also made me appreciate the work that religious professionals do even more.
How did the MTS degree prepare you for your current role as the Assistant Director of Admissions?
I was working in higher ed in international education before I applied to HDS. I came to HDS because I wanted to study critical theory and sharpen my thinking about religion, gender, race, and sexuality, and how these intersect with students studying abroad and coming to study in the US. My time at HDS taught me how to ask questions in ways I hadn’t considered before and gave me a framework to undergird my thinking about capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, and the ways we are all complicit in structures of oppression. On a practical level, I was active in student org leadership, worked 20 hours a week, went to lots of lectures and events across Harvard to take advantage of all of the incredible folks who visit (Judith Butler, Kara Walker, Judy Chicago, Melissa Harris-Perry, just to name a few that really stuck with me) and kept up with my coursework, so grad school taught me how to balance many competing priorities while making sure to take care of myself.
What’s your admissions philosophy? Why is this work important?
This work is important to me because the work that HDS students and alumni are doing is so important. HDS students and alumni are doing amazing things, from serving as chaplains in hospitals during the COVID case surge, to showing moral leadership in our own community by pushing for Harvard to divest from the prison industrial complex and fossil fuels, to advocating for folks experiencing homelessness or food insecurity, to accompanying undocumented immigrants to their court cases. HDS students and alumni are active participants in building a kinder, more humane world, and that gives my work a sense of mission and purpose, because I’m able to help people join the HDS community and get access to resources both at HDS and across Harvard to support the work that they are doing in the world.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
Give yourself plenty of time to get your ducks in a row, don’t wait until the last minute. Email us if you have questions. Carefully review all your application materials and think about them holistically. Don’t forget to apply for financial aid, that’s a crucial step. And most importantly, be authentic! Don’t tell us what you think we want to hear, but rather, tell us who you are, why HDS, and how an HDS degree will prepare you for your future.