Hartford Seminary

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Graduate Profiles

We are proud to highlight the accomplishments of our inspiring graduates. Through their hard work and devotion to scholarship, they have forged a path to success in many different fields. Find out where a Hartford Seminary degree can lead you.

Jennifer Sanborn – Master of Arts

“I truly feel like the Seminary is living its mission of preparing peacemakers.”

– Jennifer Sanborn

Jennifer

How did you hear about Hartford Seminary?

I am the daughter of an American Baptist pastor and granddaughter of two. Seminary has long had some intrigue, given the members of my family in ministry. I did not foresee serving as a traditional pastor, however, so my exploration of seminary was in aligning the education with my values, interests, and professional focus. The Women’s Leadership Institute was a perfect fit! I discovered the program on-line, and, in a “Spirit of God Moment,” soon thereafter accepted a position in the Hartford area that resulted in our family moving here from Massachusetts.

What made you decide to attend?

Following the Women’s Leadership Institute, I continued to take one course at a time, simply because I enjoyed my classmates and the interfaith learning environment. This one-at-a-time model first turned into a certificate in Ministry in Daily Life and then into a Master of Arts in Spirituality.

When did you graduate and what degree/certificate did you get?

I graduated in 2012 with a Master of Arts in Spirituality.

What sets the Hartford Seminary environment apart?

A number of seminaries are experimenting with serving students of multiple faiths. For me, Hartford Seminary is beyond the experimental stage–this quality of the educational experience is well-integrated and an assumed value for those who come. The faculty are more adept at engaging multiple faith perspectives, even in classes like Scripture and Theology, where primary belief systems can easily dominate. I truly feel like the Seminary is living its mission of preparing peacemakers.

How do you plan on using your degree?

At present, I serve as a pastor of Enfield American Baptist Church (arriving at this family legacy vocation after all!) and as interim dean of religious and spiritual life at Mount Holyoke College. I’m confident I could not have had either role without my education at Hartford Seminary. In particular, my comfort and ease with leading a multifaith program offered for an international, multifaith student body is a credit to the Hartford Seminary experience. This coming fall I’ll be departing the College to launch a life coaching business for women, again returning to my value expressed in WLI of empowering women of all ages to open themselves up to the fullness of life.

What should prospective students know about Hartford Seminary?

Prepare to invest yourself–you can skate along the edges of the experience, but you will be missing out on the full richness of what is offered by the faculty, staff, and students of Hartford Seminary. I am grateful to count many classmates as personal friends and professional associates, and I remain in contact with faculty members as well!


Byron Peart – Master of Arts grad / Doctor of Ministry student

“A Hartford Seminary education is unique and profoundly enriching.”

– Byron Peart

byron

How did you hear about Hartford Seminary?

I have known about Hartford Seminary since I was a teenager. While in High School I did a term paper on Islam by utilizing the seminary’s library which was across the street from where the seminary is now.

What made you decide to attend?

I have always wanted to pursue a seminary education. I was accepted at several seminaries including Gordon Conwell and Yale. Since I live in the greater Hartford area, the seminary is “in my back yard”. The seminary’s diversity, faculty, and physical proximity appealed to me. I have a profound interest in interfaith dialogue. I took at least one course at the seminary shortly after graduating from college. I chose a secular career and had family responsibilities, so I attended business school and earned a master’s degree at night.

When did you graduate and what degree program did you graduate from?

I graduated in May, 2014 with a Master’s degree in Theology and Ethics and I am currently enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry program.

What sets the Hartford Seminary environment apart?

The Hartford Seminary is unique in its approach to interfaith dialogue. I am not aware of any other seminary where the Abrahamic faiths are deliberately engaged in dialogue in its curriculum, faculty and students on a daily basis.

How do you plan on using your degree?

I am Pastor of the Church of God in West Hartford where I facilitate a weekly Bible study, teach a new converts’ class, and preach. Additionally, along with my wife Georgia, I coordinate a regional (Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode island) “Calling and Ministry Studies” program for my denomination. The Church of God is headquartered in Cleveland, Tennessee. We are the oldest Pentecostal denomination in America with ministries in over 180 countries.

What should prospective students know about Hartford Seminary?

A Hartford Seminary education is unique and profoundly enriching due to the emphasis on religious diversity. At Hartford seminary you will find gifted and caring faculty and staff who comprise a strong family oriented community. Also, you will meet and develop significant friendships with students from various faith traditions, ethnic, and national origin.


Kristen Provost Switzer – Cooperative Master of Divinity

“The educators at HartSem work to create the ideal learning environment.”

– Kristen Provost Switzer

Kristen

How did you hear about Hartford Seminary?

I learned about HartSem by doing a Google search for seminaries in CT.

What made you decide to attend?

HartSem was a good fit for me for many reasons. First, it was necessary for me to attend school close to home (Branford, CT).  The classes were flexible and the environment was relaxed, yet intelligent. I needed to “ease into” seminary, and HartSem helped me determine that seminary was indeed the correct choice for me.

What degree program are you currently working toward?

I am in the final semester of my M.Div. at Yale Divinity School.

What sets the Hartford Seminary environment apart?

HartSem is full of incredibly intelligent, diverse and down-to-earth people. For starters, there is nowhere else in the world where one could gain an education such as the one found at HartSem or in the Cooperative M.Div. program. Learning with people of all Abrahamic faith traditions was a complete eye-opener, and an opportunity that frankly most people never get to experience. The people at HartSem are also special. I remember sitting in M.T. Winter’s “Quantum Jesus” class, and someone admitted that they had not prepared the reading for the day. M.T.’s response was, “Well don’t get stressed out about it! That’s the last thing that anyone would want.” The educators at HartSem work to create the ideal learning environment, one which is centered on learning through people, experiences and conversation.

How do you plan on using your degree?

I plan on pursuing Ordained Ministry within the United Church of Christ to do both parish ministry and community-wide social justice work.

What should prospective students know about Hartford Seminary?

Prospective students should know that Hartford Seminary creates an education experience that one will not find at any other school. It is one-of-a-kind, and pursuing a degree at HartSem is a life-changing experience.


Rev. Gail Williams – WLI and Black Ministries Program grad / Cooperative Master of Divinity student

“Hartford seminary prepares strong leaders in a diverse world.”

– Reverend Gail Williams

Rev Gail

What did you hear about Hartford Seminary before attending?

Hartford seminary is outstanding and committed to theological academics and multicultural programs. In 1889, Hartford Seminary became the first seminary to admit female students.

What made you decide to attend?

This certificate program helps to build, prepare, and train leaders. This program was filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit!  I knew upon my completion of BMP that I would be back to Hartford Seminary for my graduate degree. It was through BMP that I was introduced to the writings of Cornel West, who taught me “ the problem is we need much more moral content.”

What degree program did you graduate from?

I graduated from The Black Ministries Program as the class president in 2008. I am currently in my second year in the Master Of Divinity Cooperative. I started my journey in the Women’s Leadership Program. It was in WLI that I learned how to apply our spirituality. In WLI I was blessed to work with Professor M.T. Winter in the Christmas Toy Ministry “ Where Love Is” for the past two years.

What sets the Hartford Seminary environment apart?

What sets Hartford Seminary apart? The transforming work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, mind and heart which conforms us to the character of Jesus. To sum it up in one word “Ethos.”

How do you plan on using your degree?

I am using my leadership skills as the founder of “The Anita, Ava House For Women, Inc.” and in the Bloomfield Public schools where I work in Special Education. I am currently working to start a mentoring program there for girls. I am also using my leadership skills in my church with a ministry called “Feeding The Multitude” for the hungry. Additionally, I am a hospice volunteer through Masonic Care as I witness people transitioning. It was in my class “The Essential Writings Of Howard Thurman and Religion In A Multicultural World” that I learned to be present in one’s presence. This has had a profound effect in my ministries.

What should prospective students know about Hartford Seminary?

There is one word that comes to my mind; they should expect “ Elevation.” Proverbs 3:5-5 NIV, Trust in the Lord with all your hearts, and do not lean on your own.


The Rev. Dee Wellington Bright Sr. – Doctor of Ministry

“The opportunity to study with Jews and Muslims broadens your scope of study. It adds to the uniqueness of this place.”

– Rev. Dee Wellington Bright Sr.

Jennifer

What did you hear about Hartford Seminary before attending?

I’m an immigrant from Liberia, where I served as an Episcopal priest for 10 years. I came to the U.S. [in 1996] and experienced many cultural shocks, including that mainline congregations were declining. That was surprising to me coming from Africa. … I took an interest in studying the dynamics of U.S. congregations. I started at Yale Divinity, but if you really are interested in U.S. congregations, you have to look at Hartford Seminary.

What degree program did you graduate from?

The Doctor of Ministry. I was the rector of a parish in Springfield, MA, and have since relocated to Oklahoma.

What sets the Hartford Seminary environment apart?

I was in one of the largest D-Min classes. There were folks from other Christian demonimations, other faith traditions as well. It was also interracial and intergenerational. The [seminary] did good work in recruiting that diversity. … [The Doctor of Ministry program is tailored] to what you are studying and what you are doing in ministry. I like the whole dynamic. It’s not something apart from your ministry. The professors are quite aware that the students are professionals in their field. There’s a balance of rigorous work and elastic tolerance to each person’s situation.

How do you plan on using your degree?

I was in search of a new ministry. When I sent in my application and resume (to the parish in Oklahoma), they were fascinated by my knowledge of congregational ministry. I credit that to this place.

What should prospective students know about Hartford Seminary?

No. 1, it’s very strong in congregational ministry. No. 2, it is practical theology, not just philosophical theology. No. 3, the interfaith component. The opportunity to study with Jews and Muslims broadens your scope of study. It adds to the uniqueness of this place.

 

 

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