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Hi everyone! I’m K.C. McConnell, a current MTS student as well as a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Admissions here at HDS. Coming to graduate school, I never imagined that I would be able to participate in student-run clubs and organizations. I thought that most students in graduate school woke up, went to class, went home, and did not interact with their fellow classmates outside of informal gatherings. At HDS, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only does our school have dozens of student organizations, but many of our organizations are extremely active in life around campus.

The student group that has been most central to my life as an HDS student is WomenCircle, which provides a space for femme-identifying folk to come together in a safe space for community. As a former student at Bryn Mawr College, an all woman’s college, I found myself missing spaces that were explicitly designated for femme folk and women where I can feel vulnerable enough to laugh, cry, and simply sit in silence with my classmates. WomenCircle not only provided me with this space, but also gave me an avenue to grow spiritually. Growing up without a particularly strong attachment to any one religious tradition often made me feel as if I had no space for spiritual exploration to call my own. I was happy to find a non-denominational space on campus that could honor all spiritual experiences tied to my identity as a femme person.

WomenCircle2

Layout of ritual objects at WomenCircle. Photo credit to K.C. McConnell.

Throughout the year, WomenCircle remained a space where I could connect with my classmates and decompress from my busy week of academic work. Last week, I had the opportunity to lead a session as the High Priestess—kind of a misnomer for me. I guided my fellow classmates through conversation, reflection, and an imaginative exercise on intimacy. Through this experience, I not only learned more about my friends, but also learned about my own abilities to venture into spiritual spaces. Despite having limited experience in participating in a religious community prior to coming to HDS, engaging with WomenCircle allowed me to explore this previously uncharted territory.

My experience in WomenCircle demonstrates two unique facets of life at HDS—our active student body both within and outside the classroom, and the ample opportunities for exploration found in the most unexpected places. I am grateful to study in a space where students are constantly in conversation and creating spaces for organized engagement with campus issues. The people here are truly present. This presence allows for multiple avenues of exploration through student organizations that allowed me to explore parts of myself that I didn’t even know existed. This place is challenging on several levels: academically, personally, spiritually, but in the best sort of way. It challenges you to grow beyond what you previously thought you could do, and who you previously thought you could be.

My advice to incoming and prospective students who are considering attending HDS: expect the unexpected. Embrace the fact that you are going to stretch your limits and push yourself. Try new things. You never know where the journey ends—or even where it begins.

K.C. McConnell

Master of Theological Studies Candidate

 

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