Master of Divinity, 2nd year
During the end of my undergraduate studies, I became interested in pursuing academic work at the graduate level. Knowing my interest in Sociology and American Ethnic Studies, a friend suggested that I explore the options available at the Theological School at Drew University. At the time I had no real understanding of what the M.Div. degree entailed, but I thought the study of church, religion, and society to be fascinating. I eventually visited Drew and discovered a community genuinely grappling with social processes and social justice. I chose to attend the Theological School because I knew that I would find a challenging academic environment with students, faculty, and staff interested in engaging and transforming both the local and global community.
For what vocation is Drew preparing you?
I am still uncertain as to what it is exactly that I am preparing for upon graduation. As of now, I am attempting to live in the moment and retain as much knowledge as humanly possible. I do intend to follow one of three potential options: first, Ph.D. studies in Religion and Society; second, study/living/working abroad; or third, pastoral ministry in spite of my reluctance to identify with any religious tradition. The M.Div. is an attractive degree because it prepares students for a diverse range of “ministry” opportunities due to the broadly based academic requirements.
What do you bring to Drew?
I bring a small piece of the Pacific Northwest “flavor” to the geographic Northeast; for example, flip-flops in church services, the use of REI, Northface, and Marmot all-weather gear instead an umbrella, and finally the “nut and granola” attitude. Diversity abounds at Drew, and each individual contributes in their own way. In the classroom, I attempt to use my Sociology and American Ethnic Studies background to critically reflect on how the individual and collective socially engages at the micro, meso, and macro levels of human interaction. Further, my youthful 20-something perspective, contributes to a dialogue across generations. In the classroom and the larger Drew community, my peers and I attempt to transgress generation boundaries.
How will you have changed when you graduate from Drew?
As a first year seminary student, my interest in spirituality, religion, and society, was purely intellectual and I found it ironic that I applied to and entered the M.Div. program. I had no intentions of pursuing ordination and resented any comment from peers or teachers who thought that I may one day do such a thing. I decided on the M.Div. because I believed it would help my research interests on church activism and civic engagement. However, my seminary experience has become a type of reclamation process, wherein I am discovering the breadth of religious traditions and the intricate beauties within each. My study is no longer merely intellectual, but rather a holistic endeavor of mind, body, and spirit. I am still unsure of ordination or church work, but my perspective on the church has changed and is continuing to change.
What is your favorite aspect of community life at Drew?
Many cultures of the world gather, celebrate, and embrace each other around the feasting table. In contrast, the academic world can become stale, sterile, and highly competitive. Drew embraces the mobilizing power of food. Frequently throughout the semester, community dinners are provided for students, faculty, and staff alike. It is more than a free meal (though that is certainly a valid reason for attending); it is an opportunity to build community. Additionally, it is an occasion for commuter and on-campus students to converse at greater length and meet each other outside of the classroom when otherwise not always possible. I find these times valuable and one of my favorite aspects of community life at Drew.
What advice do you have for prospective Drew students?
Though it may be nearly impossible, and the academic work seemingly unceasing, find time to take a break. The New Jersey countryside provides plenty of options to “get away” from the chaos that is our lives. Additionally, a short train ride to NYC includes endless possibilities and a nightlife not found in Madison (or anywhere else for that matter). I have found time away from campus re-energizes the mind, body, and soul. These adventures help sustain the student, keep us out of the library, and maintain sanity.