Citta

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Photo by Katelynn Carver

Photo by Katelynn Carver

Around this time last year, when the tenuous and uncertain transition to spring usually makes me want to feel time speed up—right through the last of the dreary, cold March days—I found myself wanting nothing more than to put the brakes on the incessant passage of time. I had the great fortune of being admitted to the two dream masters programs I had applied for: a Masters of Theological Studies concentrating in the Philosophy of Religion at Harvard Divinity School and a Masters in Applied Psychology at Columbia.  Although I primarily felt just tremendous gratitude for the opportunity to engage in either of these wonderful programs, I was also facing a significant decision that would likely have very different implications for my future.

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Stellar & Down to Earth Faculty

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The Harvard Divinity School shield. Photo by Chris Alburger

The Harvard Divinity School shield at Harvard COOP. Photo by Chris Alburger

When I visited HDS as a prospective student, I was surprised by what Dr. Emily Click said from the podium. I’d brought some assumptions with me, across the country to Cambridge. I mean, it was Harvard. I figured they’d be snobby. Especially the faculty, with all their accomplishments and accolades. But Emily Click emanated warmth, her words were heartfelt, and she was so down to earth, I thought, wow, this is like my small liberal arts college, but even more so: nurturing, holistic, inspiring. Continue reading

An Incredibly Supportive Community

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The Harvard University Plaza. Photo by Chris Alburger

The Harvard University Plaza. Photo by Chris Alburger

“Don’t be afraid to let yourself be human, Jen.”

These wise words from one of my HDS advisors have come back to me again and again throughout my second year here at HDS. Throughout my time here, I have experienced firsthand that while HDS is full of some of the most talented and highly productive people you may meet, it is also grounded in an incredibly supportive community. Over our three years of Divinity School in the MDiv program, we are asked, constantly, to do it all: complete multiple intensive, transformative internships; read more pages than ever possible each week; develop strong and lasting relationships with friends and colleagues; network and realize our future plans; go to all of the lectures and all of the events taking place across this great university. The opportunities for education and exploration truly are endless here, not to mention the amazing people you’ll meet along the way.

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Inimitable Opportunities

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Photo credit: Chris Alburger

Congratulations on your acceptance to Harvard Divinity School! Discerning program “fit,” in light of my scholarly and personal interests, was easy for me. I entered HDS with personal conviction, very much in alignment with the HDS mission, to foster a global culture of mutual understanding, respect, and goodwill—a culture in which people of every religion and culture coexist and work together in peace. I knew that the MTS program would help me to critically engage my understanding of my Catholic faith and learn more about powerful and interdependent cultural, political and social forces, as I endeavor to help implement empirically and cultural-linguistically based policies and programs centered on access to equitable health care and education for all.

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Skills That Will Translate

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Divinity Hall. Photo by Chris Alburger

Divinity Hall. Photo by Chris Alburger

I was planning on going to graduate school to get a master’s in international education, which made sense at the time. I had been working with international students for three years, both in the U.S. and in Costa Rica, and getting a master’s degree was the next logical step. I had a plan, I had a spreadsheet with all of the international education programs I was applying for, and I had a solid elevator speech to respond to the inevitable, frequent, and mildly painful question, “what are you going to do next?”

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In My Head and In My Heart

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Divinity Ave. Photo by Chris Alburger

Divinity Ave. Photo by Chris Alburger

If a year and a half ago someone had told me I would soon be in Divinity School, I would have thought two things: 1. “Here is someone who doesn’t understand that you can do something with a Religious Studies major besides become ordained” and 2. “That is not in my plan.”

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A Special Place

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Mosaic. Photo by Katelynn Carver

Mosaic. Photo by Katelynn Carver

To be honest, when I came to HDS for admitted students day I was looking for excuses not to come here.  I had just graduated from Emory and received a job offer to stay there and work.  I was afraid to leave my comfort zone filled with friends, relationships, and work.  But I knew I couldn’t just turn down Harvard without a good reason, so I decided to come to the Admitted Students Day and find a reason why HDS was not for me.  The quickest way to do that I realized was to discover that there was no real community here and thus it was not a place where I could be successful.

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Come See What Can’t Be Explained

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Library courtyard. Photo by Chris Alburger

Library courtyard. Photo by Chris Alburger

GRE scores, GPA, extracurricular activities, lectures and presentations…many things go into making a candidate look good on paper. Yet the personal statement and the letters of recommendation really bring an application to life. They show the admissions committee a bit of who you are. Now, having been accepted to Harvard Divinity School, and perhaps several other institutions, you are on the flipside of the admissions experience.

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Harvard-Wide Opportunities

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Harvard University building on Divinity Ave. Photo by Chris Alburger

Harvard University building on Divinity Ave. Photo by Chris Alburger

The first thing I noticed when I arrived at Harvard is that there is always some interesting lecture to attend, a visit by a favorite academic/practitioner, or even a student group to get involved in. In addition to trying to keep up with your classes, how are you supposed to make time for the lecture by Malala Yousafzai or the impromptu visit by Kanye West and Kim Kardashian at the Harvard Graduate School of Design? Truth be told, it can all be a little overwhelming. Sure, there’s the constant joke that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is alive and well at Harvard. But there’s another way to look at it: there’s never a lack of opportunities within Harvard to get involved in the things you care about.       Continue reading

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