As I entered my second semester as an MDiv student at HDS, I looked forward to branching out and taking courses that were cross-listed with other Harvard schools and composed of students from different parts of Harvard University. My favorite course so far this semester has been one such course: Christian Ethics and Modern Society with Dr. Charles Lockwood. The diversity of my class represents everything I like best about being a Harvard student. In addition to coming from all different parts of the University–from Harvard College to Harvard Divinity School to alumni working as fellows at the University–my class comprises students of various faith traditions, gender identities, sexualities, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and philosophical camps.
As the winter semester wears on and students settle back into their routine here in Cambridge/Somerville/Boston, some find it a good time to reflect on what “home” means during the transition-filled graduate school years. Below, 2nd year MDiv student Aisha Ansano shares her thoughts…
“Where are you from?” It’s a question I’ve gotten more times than I can count since I’ve been at HDS. “Well,” I typically begin, “I was born in the Caribbean, on a small island called Curaçao, but I moved to Durham, North Carolina when I was 10, and I lived in the California Bay Area for 5 years before I came to HDS.” It’s a long answer, but the only one that feels authentic – these places are all my homes, even though I now live in a wonderful apartment in Cambridge.
Oh, the uncertainty! As I enter the second (and final–how bittersweet!) term of my master’s degree here at HDS I am particularly reminded of the anxieties, hopes, and expectations of the “waiting game” that occupied my senior year of college because, in the oddly cyclical nature of things, I am in it once again!
On Tuesday, January 26, Winter Storm Juno raged across New England with a vengeance. Although a former Harvard Dean of Students once remarked that “Harvard University will close only for an act of God, such as the end of the world,” even our doors were forced to close, leaving our students with a rare snow day. Our two graduate assistants, Sarah and Caroline, found that they spent their snow day in quite different ways…
Applying to graduate school can bring many new things to light: Is my application process something I want to discuss with everybody, with nobody, or with a few trusted confidants? How well can I juggle my everyday commitments with this extra task? What is it that is truly driving me to apply for graduate study, and how can I best translate that into my statement of purpose?
As application season rapidly draws to a close, current HDS students stopped to reflect on what surprised them most during their own application processes…
You know those kids in high school and college who did all their homework all the time, the ones who always had something to say in class discussion and had questions for the teacher every week? I was one of THOSE kids. I guess that’s not too shocking of a confession to come from a Harvard graduate student, but in hindsight I feel a little sheepish about those days. The most important thing I’ve learned in my time at HDS so far is how to prioritize and balance the things in my life, and homework just doesn’t always make it to the top of the list.
Wherever you are in the application process, we current students at HDS remember the discombobulating stress that can accompany embarking on the massive undertaking of applying to graduate school. Below is some of the advice we wished we would have known as we clicked “Begin an application” on the HDS website…
Working for Student Life as a Graduate Assistant has a lot of perks. My office is right near the candy bowl and upstairs from the coffee and tea room; I also get to be one of the first ones to know about upcoming programs. However, my favorite part of working for the Office of Student Life is helping to plan and attending Community Tea every Tuesday at 4pm. Community Tea is a 30-year-old tradition. Each week a different office or organization hosts, and as part of my job I get to work with them to plan their tea.
Diving Into the Wreck (Photo by Caroline Matas)
This semester I began working as a Graduate Assistant in the HDS Office of Admissions. Since I’ve started working here, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and articulating why I love HDS, and how I’ve changed since coming here. This blog post arose from a discussion I had with my fellow Graduate Assistant here, Carly, about how my academic explorations have influenced my personal life.
Last year, during my first semester at Harvard Divinity School, I took a class called Piety and Protest: Women and Religion in Contemporary America with Ann Braude. In this class, we examined case studies of women’s protests within, and against, their religious faiths. Through the various books we read, I became very interested in the ways that women used their bodies to register and enact protest. I was intrigued by the ways that women’s clothing and bodies have been re-signified and re-marked to critique and fight back against various forms of gender discrimination. This interest led to my final paper, which was about the potentiality of tattoos to interrupt patriarchal body projects. This line of inquiry has informed much of the work I’ve done since, which has focused on what bodies mean, how bodies move through space, and how bodies and subjects are discursively produced in different contexts.
After a four-hour block of classes, we were all feeling like we needed some ice cream.
A few of my fellow incoming MDiv and MTS students and I walked over to JP Licks in Harvard Square. We flopped down onto the metal seats, savoring that end-of-summer, last-moments-of-freedom, coffee-cookies-and-cream feeling.
I looked around at my new classmates and asked, “So…what’s new?”
They laughed, and one of them said, “Basically, everything.”