Introducing the 2020-2021 HDS Admissions Graduate Assistants: Meet Atéha!

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Post by Atéha Bailly 

Hello! My name is Atéha Bailly. I am an incoming MDiv student and I’m happy to be starting work in HDS Admissions!  

Photo Courtesy of Atéha Bailly

Before coming to HDS, I spent a year working in Portland, OR after finishing my undergraduate studies in Religious Studies. During this time, I had the privilege of attending the 2019 Diversity Explorations Program. It was an invaluable opportunity in my discernment process, and it allowed me to spend time with a bunch of brilliant and talented students from universities across the country.  

During my application process, I was definitely not expecting to be attending school in a virtual environment. I have never taken classes online before, so it likely will be a bit of a learning curve. So far, the faculty and staff at HDS have been understanding of the unique challenges this time of pandemic poses which helped alleviate some of my anxiety about this transition.  

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Introducing the 2020-2021 HDS Admissions Graduate Assistants: Meet Kate!

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Post by Kate Hoeting 

Hi everyone! I’m a second year Master in Theological Studies student with an area of focus in Women, Gender, and Sexuality. I’m excited to return to the HDS Office of Admissions for another year of working as a Graduate Assistant! 

Just before coming to HDS, graduated from Carleton College in the great state of Minnesota where I was born and raised. Although I majored in religion, I was surprised by my own path—I grew up non-religious and hadn’t been interested in religion before coming to college. I’m non-religious/unaffiliated/whatever to this day, and I’ve found HDS not only a great place to study religion but also to think about how my own identity relates to my work. 

While in college, a few experiences cemented my path to divinity school. I started the life-changing work of volunteering as an abortion doula through the Carleton Advocacy Network of Doulas (CAN-DO), which I helped co-found in college. As an abortion doula, I supported patients in-clinic during the procedure. This meant showing up for patients however they needed me—I did everything from holding hands and passing tissues to chatting about Netflix. I could see the parallels between doula work and chaplaincy, and I felt excited by the idea of learning more about hands-on spiritual care and counseling at HDS. I was more interested in the MTS than the MDiv, and I loved that HDS allowed MTS students do field education and enroll in chaplaincy-oriented courses. 

Kate moderating a panel of abortion doulas and providers // Photo courtesy of Kate Hoeting
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Interview with HDS Admissions Assistant Director, Sarah Guzy

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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!

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Guzy

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. 

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Interview with Margaret Okada-Scheck, Associate Director of Admissions

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Post by Margaret Okada-Scheck, Associate Director of Admissions 

Editor’s Note: Meet Margaret, the HDS Associate Director of Admissions! Margaret has a wide range of responsibilities in the office, including leading the planning for our Diversity and Explorations Program, an opportunity for current undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds to learn more about the programs offered at HDS. Below you can read about Margaret’s dedication to supporting students, her professional experiences and about her dog, Bingo!

Photo courtesy of Margaret Okada-Scheck

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you want the HDS community & prospective students to know about you?  

Hello! My name is Margaret Okada-Scheck (she/her/hers) and I’m the Associate Director of Admissions in HDS Admissions. I’m originally from Queens, New York, and got my BA from the State University of New York at Buffalo. I am Asian American (of Japanese descent), married to a German man, and we have a 15-month-old boy whom we adopted last year.  

I’ve been working in graduate admissions for about 12 years and have been in my role at HDS for 2 years. My primary responsibilities include recruiting prospective students, running the communications and marketing for HDS Admissions, and managing the Diversity and Explorations (DivEx) program. 

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HDS Admissions Application Now Available

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HDS Application Season has officially begun and the application for entrance in Fall 2021 is open! For those of you who have decided to or are considering applying to HDS, we know this can be both an exciting and stressful time. In this post, we will highlight some key information as well as a few tips to make the process run smoother.  

Photo courtesy of Kate Hoeting

If you are considering applying this year, we encourage you to start early! During the process, you’ll find that some parts of the application are out of your control, such as your transcripts or letters of recommendation. Allowing yourself ample time to complete the parts you do have control over will make the process less stressful. Be sure to check out our Suggested Application Timeline blog post and our How To Apply Series that explains each application requirement in greater detail.  

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Interview with HDS Admissions Staff Assistant, John Rzasa

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Post by John Rzasa, Admissions Staff Assistant 

Editor’s Note: Meet John, the HDS Admissions Staff Assistant! When prospective students email admissions@hds.harvard.edu, John is the staff member who responds to your questions. In this article, we asked him a few questions so that you all could get to know him! 

Photo Courtesy of John Rzasa

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you want the HDS community & prospective students to know about you? 

My name is John Rzasa, and I am the Staff Assistant for the HDS Admissions Office.  I have been in the role for a year and a half at this point, and previously worked at the Harvard Law School (HLS) for just over four years.  Outside of work, I enjoy writing, watching ‘B’ movies (or lower, all the way down to ‘Z’), and cats. 

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Favorite Things about HDS

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Editor’s Note: To celebrate the beginning of classes for the 2020-21 Academic Year, we decided to ask some current HDS students to write about their favorite things about HDS. Most of these paragraphs have to do with community at HDS, so we want to acknowledge how difficult it is for us all to be apart this semester. We’re hoping we can be back in person soon, and we’re excited to work on building community digitally this fall. Please enjoy reading about their favorite courses, communities, and experiences so far. 

Anna Ringheiser, MTS ‘21 

My favorite class my first semester at HDS was Religious Literacy and The Professions with Professor Diane Moore. I loved this class primarily because I had not previously encountered the term “religious literacy,” but I had felt the need for what the term describes in previous professional experiences. Another reason I loved this class was the diversity of ages, experiences, and opinions among my classmates. I was able to learn so much from them, which was helped by the small size of the class and Professor Moore’s teaching style, which gave room for everyone to share their thoughts. 

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Meet Our Incoming Students, Part 3

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Editor’s Note: This is the final post in our three-part series introducing you to incoming students! These students have come to HDS to explore everything from Buddhist chaplaincy to grief in South Asian traditions. This week, HDS students have officially finalized their schedules and are getting ready for the semester! We wish all these incoming students a happy first semester at HDS. This is part three of a three-part series—you can also read part one and part two. 

Rebecca Mendoza Nunziato, MTS ‘22, studying Latinx and Latin American decolonial spirituality 

My studies will center on the topic of decolonization and indigenous spirituality, specifically focusing on pre-Columbian Mesoamerican religions as a tool for modern Latinx spirituality (in hopes that ancient wisdom can be reclaimed and aid connection with the earth and one another). I applied to HDS because of the work of Professors David Carrasco and Mayra Rivera Rivera as well as the incredible course offerings of HDS. This summer I have been working full-time, connecting with my community in Denver, Colorado, and preparing to move my RV home and family (partner + pets) to the East Coast. 

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Meet Our Incoming Students, Part 2

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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. 

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Meet Our Incoming Students, Part 1

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Editor’s Note: We had such an impressive collection of applicants this year, so we’re launching a three-part series to introduce you to some members of our incoming class! We’re publishing this post to celebrate student orientation, which is happening online this week. During student orientation—online or in person—students have the opportunity to get to know their fellow classmates, explore student organizations, and meet their faculty advisors. This is part one of a three-part series—you can also check out part two and part three.

Annie Hanock, MDiv ‘23, studying spiritual caregiving and multifaith chaplaincy 

As a nonreligious person, I was originally really drawn to HDS as a nonsectarian divinity school where I would be able to take part in theological study without committing to a specific religion or practice myself. Although I’m not entirely certain what path my studies as a Master of Divinity student will follow, I do hope to become a multifaith chaplain, and I look forward to learning more about spiritual guidance and counseling, liberation theologies, and religious spaces/communities in general as conduits for revolutionary change. Although COVID has made it pretty much impossible to prepare for my first year at HDS as I had originally imagined I would, I have been really lucky to be able to dedicate a lot of time throughout these past couple of months to some hardcore personal/spiritual reflection (usually while sewing potholders or knitting dishtowels in preparation for my move to Cambridge), which I hope will help guide me as I begin my studies. 

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