What has been most rewarding thus far in my HDS experience is the emphasis on educating the entire self, not just the mind. One of the things that made me hesitant about choosing HDS over the other programs to which I was accepted was my concern that there would be a lack of community life and opportunities for growth beyond academia. This fear stemmed from the luster and accolade that accompanies the “Harvard name” and the pressure I was putting on myself to live up to that name academically. Upon matriculation to HDS however (and thankfully), my fear and the pressure I was putting on myself were both proven entirely unnecessary. What I found was a place where my entire being—my mind, my hopes and aspirations, my heart, and my self in relation to others—was going to be challenged, transformed, and educated in a new and complete way.
I first experienced the education-of-the-entire-self in my Introduction to Ministry Studies class my first semester. Each one of the twelve students in our section was asked to write a “Spiritual Autobiography” that was a snapshot of the way we came to be at Harvard Divinity School. Each ten-page essay was so much more than words on a page; each essay was a testament of the self, a testimony of the soul. I listened to my colleagues share about their childhood mentors, their life changing trips to India, their return to their faith, their families, their friends, their relationships. I could never have imagined that those stories would be what I would be hearing in a classroom my first few weeks at Harvard.
It was then that I realized that my education at HDS was going to go far beyond academia. My education would be for my whole self. Over my past two and a half years here I have realized that HDS is a mirror for the entire person. Each and every day, HDS asks students to look at themselves—to look at their entire selves—and ask: “Is this the person who I want to be in this world?” It is most certainly challenging, but it is also extremely rewarding. I am not only learning about great literature and complex theologies, but how to be in right relationship, how to find meaning in this world, and how to most fully bring my self to my work, my relationships, and my life.