Our HDS Admissions Blog has served many a prospective student during the application and matriculation process. I’ve compiled an annotated list of the posts that were most helpful to me during the anxious period between submitting my application, hearing back about The Decision in mid-March, and making my decision to matriculate in April. I do hope that these posts will bring comfort and insight to those awaiting decisions, those only beginning to consider HDS, and even those of us already spending evenings in Andover Library, searching for a sense of renewal in a new semester. Continue reading
If I had to describe my journey to Harvard Divinity School, I would refer to the words of Frederick Buechner in Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, in which he states: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Over time, I’ve adopted this understanding of my calling to the world and weaved Buechner’s words through my narrative.
As a high school student, while working at a local non-profit interfaith coffee shop, I remember thriving in an environment that encouraged musings, followed wanderings, and above all, valued global social justice. After graduation, I began to work my way through my undergraduate program, where I brought my musings to a campus that allowed me to grow in my passion for social justice. Eventually, I followed my wanderings to Limpopo, South Africa, where I was able to actively collaborate with local community members in working towards community social justice goals. Near the end of my undergraduate career, my musings and wanderings combined with my passion for social justice, led me to consider the intersection of my deep gladness and the world’s hunger. With these questions, I began to consider continuing my education through the means of Divinity School or seminary, but not without question… lots and lots of questions.
I struggled to decide if my desires were best fit for a traditional seminary or a Divinity School. My hyper-Type A personality had me buried in pro-con lists, researching schools around the country, while continuing to ask where I wanted my theological education to lead me. Last November, in the midst of these lists and research, I found myself as a participant in HDS’ Diversity and Explorations Program (DivEx). I approached DivEx with the same explorative attitude, passion, and flexibility that I carried from my previous experiences and here, I discovered the welcoming community, innovative thinking, and tremendous resources that HDS has to offer.
During DivEx, the time I spent in conversation with professors, administrators, current and prospective students, and various other leaders, guided my search for a theological education. It was here that I had the opportunity to sit with other DivEx participants to discern my direction in the world. DixEx has so much to offer: class visits, admissions and financial aid information sessions, and community events that provide an authentic sense of the atmosphere at HDS. In my DivEx experience, my most valuable conversations happened naturally, such as over a cup of coffee, or around the dinner table, where professors and students truly embodied the openness of the HDS community.
These colorful conversations are what I continued to think about months later; I still carry these conversations to my classes today. The direction of my education developed from these friendships. In this space of people devoted to social-justice, myself and my fellow DivEx participants come willing to cultivate conversation, explore musings, and embrace wanderings.
As you embark on the journey of considering theological education, I urge you to nurture your musings, follow your wanderings, and let your ‘deep gladness’ lead you. I invite you to listen as you share a meal with those around you, and use conversations as guideposts in your discernment as you continue to ask where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet. If you are participating in DivEx this year, or thinking about applying to DivEx next year, I hope that you find value beyond the surface, and your conversations lead you to clarity in your discernment.
All the best on your journey,
Samantha Melton, M.Div. ’19
The e-mail arrived in your inbox (or pinged on your phone). It likely said something dreadfully vague and adrenaline-inducing, such as “Thank you for your application, admissions decisions are now available online, click this shiny link and prepare to wait for the longest page-load in the history of page-loads.”
Not in so many words, of course.
But then the page did load, and the message was clear. And even on the fifth time through, it still says Congratulations. Continue reading
Why Harvard? Why HDS? Why not Harvard? As a woman who spent the bulk of her adult life in the rather transparent world of Hollywood, I can tell you that just because it bears a label does not mean you should wear it. I use this analogy because the reality is: Harvard is one of the most prestigious labels with which one can adorn oneself. But, when plotting your future, the institution you choose to be your home for either two, three or five years should fit you like a glorious tailor-made suit.
So you’re considering Divinity School, hmm?
First, congratulations. In my experience, people don’t normally up and decide to pursue graduate work in religion on a whim, so you’ve probably been poking around the discernment process (I love that word, discernment) for a bit now, and have sussed out some direction from the ether. You’ve braved the quirked eyebrows (Divinity School? What’s that?), maybe even a few interesting queries/comments, depending on your interests and your background (for me, coming as a predominantly non-religious female from an extended-family of Catholics, this mostly coalesced around the assumption Oh, so you’re becoming a nun!).