Post by: Kerry Maloney, HDS Chaplain and Director of Religious and Spiritual Life (RSL)
Kerry Maloney has served the HDS community since 2004 as HDS Chaplain and Director of Religious and Spiritual Life and, prior to this role, as the Associate Director of Ministry Studies. In this particular moment, we thought it would be helpful to hear from the HDS Chaplain about the different ways the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life has responded to the challenges present in the work of our community today. If you are in need of some spiritual resources, we encourage you to explore the “Spiritual Resources During the COVID-19 Pandemic” created by RSL.
Post by: Malini Srikrishna, MTS ‘21 and President of HDSSA (2020-2021)
Malini (MTS ‘21) is a licensed social worker, entrepreneur and minister of love. Her area of focus is Liberation Theology, Business Ethics and Spiritual Care (an area of focus which Malini created herself). The HDS Student Association provides students a voice in the administrative and policymaking procedures of the School and facilitates discussion among students, staff, and faculty. The elected student officers meet monthly with the Dean to discuss student concerns and issues that affect the entire community and provide opportunities for conversation among students, faculty, and staff through roundtable discussions and Town Hall meetings.
Eboni Nash is a second year MTS student, who recently interviewed professor and activist Angela Davis. In addition to her academic pursuits at HDS, she serves as Social Justice Chair for the HDS Student Association (HDSSA), the Office of Student Life Ambassador for Diversity & Inclusion, an Organizer for the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign, and Vice President of Events/Organizing for Harambee, the HDS student organization for students of African descent.
Where were you when it happened? I imagine this question, much like 9/11, will be asked of us by the younger generation. Where were you when the COVID-19 pandemic struck? For me, I was on a plane heading back to my mother’s house for spring break. I decided to go early to be able to celebrate my niece’s birthday, when I received the email notifying me not to come back to campus.
Just like that, 2020 took another unexpected turn that forced us to adjust quickly. During our stay-at-home orders, I found myself wondering what I could do and how I could still be useful so far from my networks. After weeks of contemplating and eating entirely too much, I realized that organizing was still very possible.
For the past three years, I have considered myself an organizer and activist. Starting with food justice, I directed a local nonprofit in Nebraska that helped feed low income families of elementary school students over the weekend. This exposure to food-insecurity, education surrounding the poverty-line, as well as hot zones for food deserts, really took hold of my heart. I eased deeper into social justice soon after when I spent a summer interning at Sunshine Enterprises in Chicago.
Editor’s Note: Kate Hoeting recently finished her first year as a student in the MTS program and as a Graduate Assistant in the HDS Office of Admissions. After a year of guiding prospective students through the application, Kate is sharing her wisdom about how applicants might approach the process.
Post by Kate Hoeting, MTS ‘21 and Admissions Graduate Assistant
I love a good plan, and if you clicked on this article, it seems likely that you love a good plan too. When you’re facing something that seems as daunting as applying to graduate school, it can be helpful to break the process down into manageable steps. But first, a word of warning: everyone’s journey to divinity school is different, and this timeline shouldn’t be one size fits all. Do not panic if you’re reading this post in October and thinking, “I’m already too late!” Conversely, if you are already working on your Statement of Purpose, that is fantastic! Please customize the timeline to your particular situation. I personally did not follow this timeline when I applied to HDS—it’s just a set of guidelines for those of you who love a good plan.
July: Decide if you want to apply to graduateschool
Going to graduate school is a serious commitment of time and resources, so it will be helpful to take some time to sort out if and why you want to apply. This process of discernment can also be helpful in writing a strong Statement of Purpose later down the line. This is a good time to do some journaling, reflecting, and ritualizing. Be in your communities—even if it’s on Zoom—and connect with mentors who can help you decide whether to apply. It can also be helpful to check out our website and sign up for one of our HDS information session webinars.
Post by Kate Hoeting, MTS ‘21, & Julia Reimann, MDiv ‘22
If you’re thinking about coming to divinity school, you might be wondering how to decide where to apply when you can’t visit campus. We at the HDS Office of Admissions feel for you, and we’re working hard to develop resources to help you explore HDS!
Draft Your Statement of Purpose
Divinity school is a big investment of time and money, so you’ll want to devote time to thinking about why you want to attend. Even if you’re just exploring, starting to draft your Statement of Purpose can give you a good sense of what you’d like to get out of graduate school and why. Having a grasp on your future goals will not only strengthen your application but also make your life happier in the long run by helping you decide which kind of school is right for you.
Make a Research Spreadsheet
Summer is a great time to research different schools before you can start filling out our application in September. If you make a spreadsheet to track your research, you can mark things like tuition, programs that interest you, and testing requirements. Just making the spreadsheet can be helpful because it will help you consider which aspects of divinity school matter to you. For example, when I was searching for schools, my spreadsheet had a column to rate each school’s library.
Editor’s Note: Tessa Steinert Evoy is graduating today, May 28th, 2020, with a Master of Theological Studies. The Office of Admissions is grateful to Tessa for all her hard work over these past two years serving as an Admissions Graduate Assistant, andwe wish Tessa the best of luck on her post-HDS adventures!
Post by Tessa Steinert Evoy, MTS ‘20 and Admissions Graduate Assistant
I certainly would not have expected to be ending my MTS degree this way; however, these past few months have only made me appreciate the people of HDS who I have spent the last two years getting to know more. It all began in a classroom that slowly cooled as the sun dipped behind the clouds on a June night in the French course for Summer Language Program. Our classroom was often filled with laughter and the sound of rustling wrappers as we passed around packages of cookies. For me, transitioning from teaching eighth and ninth graders, SLP was a perfect bridge to the full HDS experience, a bit like dipping your toe into the HDS pond. On those sweltering days of orientation I saw the familiar faces of my SLP summer nights as we met the other students we would get to spend the next two years learning from. It is these people that I miss the most during our virtual learning.
Post by: Julia Reimann, MDiv ‘22 and Graduate Assistant
As the year comes to a close, I find myself feeling immense gratitude for the classmates and courses of the first year of divinity school in all its complexity and challenge. This year has been a particularly unconventional first year: moving across the country, joining a new campus community, returning to school, completing the first semester and launching into second, and then returning home and completing the first-year virtually due to COVID-19. This year has been characterized by significant change and frequent transitions, a constant cycle of readjusting. Amidst all the change, my relationships with classmates in our MDiv cohort and throughout the HDS community have been vital to maintaining connection to my educational journey and community amidst the chaos. The small class sizes at HDS and our required first-year courses in the first semester helped to foster close relationships with peers, which have only grown throughout the year.
Weekly events with community members became even more important to my schedule during second semester as the members of our first-year cohort moved to independently study our particular research interests. The food and time we shared outside of the classroom during Community Tea was a meaningful space to share our experiences with each other, maintain connection to deepen relationships, and grow together.
Our Off-Campus Housing article will give you a sense of what features to consider when searching for places to live.
Please note that these articles were published last year, so the deadlines have changed. Because of COVID-19, the Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) is not open for summer lodging this year. Applications for CSWR housing during the 2020-21 academic year are due May 29, 2020. To participate in the Harvard University Housing lottery, apply by May 15, 2020.
We wish you the best of luck with finding your new home!
Editor’s Note: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, HDS students Molly Silverstein (MDiv ‘22) and Joe Welker (MDiv ‘22) decided to create a resource for HDS community members to talk about how they’re getting through it. Please enjoy this interview with the creators of Closing the Distance!
Post by: Molly Silverstein (MDiv ‘22) and Joe Welker(MDiv ‘22)
Can you tell us about Closing the Distance?
Closing the Distance is a platform for students at HDS and the surrounding community to share their experience during this time of crisis. This includes spiritual resources we’re drawing upon, how we’re supporting others and ourselves, and the wide range of thoughts and feelings this moment is bringing up for all of us. It’s an attempt to create a robust virtual community in which we can all share our gifts at a time where physical community is necessarily prevented.
Editor’s Note: As admitted students discern whether HDS is right for them, it can be helpful to hear why current students decided to come here! Please enjoy this short piece by Sally Hammel, a second–career MDiv student planning to work in hospital or hospice chaplaincy.
Post by: Sally Hammel, MDiv ‘21
When I meet people and I tell them I’m at Harvard Divinity School, they politely ask how I decided to come here. The question always surprises me—until I remember that I’m sixty-one years old, so not your typical graduate student.
I am an almost native New Yorker, having lived my whole adult life on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Employed by the same company for about thirty years, I’ve had a robust career in advertising. While I enjoyed the benefits of my demanding career, I wanted more balance in my life and found myself signing up for various retreats, workshops, and online courses to help fill a spiritual need. In 2014, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma—breast cancer. Following treatment, I took a thirty-day sabbatical and walked the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile walk across Spain. During this trip, I connected with many other seekers, and realized I really wanted to explore and grow my spiritual connection.