Every year, Maryville College students interested in pursuing graduate-level theology have the opportunity to visit and learn more about various schools and seminaries around the country.
Earlier this fall, 11 students, accompanied by Campus Minister the Rev. Anne McKee and Diana Lovelace, Coordinator for Service, Mission and Vocation, traveled to the Northeast to visit Yale Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary.
“I achieved a better understanding of what seminary is all about, and I learned more about what direction I want to go with my life,” said Nathaniel Smith, a junior history major, who traveled with the group.
Their first stop at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, involved class sessions with several professors and worship service in the Marquand Chapel.
McKee attended Yale Divinity School as a graduate student.
“I think that many of the students really loved Yale Divinity School,” she said. “It offers excellent academics, strong worship and a good community in the atmosphere of an outstanding university. Our two Episcopal students also really appreciated how Yale has an Episcopal seminary, so they could fulfill their denominational requirements there.”
On Thursday, Oct. 8, the group traveled to New York City to tour Union Theological Seminary.
The train left Grand Central Station for Princeton, New Jersey, on Oct. 9. At Princeton Theological Seminary, the group attended a service in Miller Chapel and visited the holistic health fair, in addition to touring the campus. The current MC students had the opportunity to visit MC alumni who are now enrolled at the seminary.
“Princeton Theological Seminary stood out to me because the people are very academic, but they also have a genuine passion and care for the church,” Smith said. “The library is very impressive, and the campus is beautiful.”
At each destination, students met with admissions advisors to discuss financial aid, curriculum requirements, housing and other important subjects. In addition, they met some of the top biblical scholars in the country. The itinerary also incorporated opportunities to visit the historical cities where the schools are located.
“I hope to give the students a vision of what theological education is really like - to let them get a picture of different schools and to develop a sense of their own vocation. If they are thinking about seminary or theological education, I want them to get a clearer sense of what that might be like, of what schools might be a good fit for them, and help them take steps on that path,” said McKee.
The 2009 seminary exploration trip was made possible with funds from the College’s Initiative on Vocation. This program, which was created with grant funds from Lilly Endowment Inc., seeks to give students a sustained opportunity to explore the roots of vocation and begin to discern their own specific calling in the world.