2019 Diploma Awarding Ceremony

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[MUSIC PLAYING] It’s so good down there. Get it, Ron. Dear graduates, faculty,
families, guests, staff, and friends, welcome
to the Campus Green. It won’t be quite as green
after we’re finished with it, but it started off green. How wonderful to
have you all here with us for the Harvard Divinity
School Diploma Ceremony. Want to just firstly
congratulate the Class of 2019. [APPLAUSE] So proud of you all of their
morning exercises today. Honestly the dental school had
their plastic toothbrushes. The Kennedy School had their
plastic gloves of the world and the hubris of it. [LAUGHTER] I’d like just to take a
moment to say thank you to parents,
families, and friends on behalf of our students
for your crucial support throughout the
graduate studies here. We celebrate with
you today as well, and I ask our graduates
to rise please and express their thanks to you, their
families and friends. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. So our student speaker this
year selected by competition is Tony Amoury Alkhoury, who
is receiving the MDiv from HDS. [APPLAUSE] Tony! There were some amazing
speeches today in the arts, so Lord have mercy upon me now. [LAUGHTER] Preach, Tony! Good morning, parents,
friends, teachers, staff, alumni, and, of course,
good morning Class of 2019. [APPLAUSE] Good morning to all parents
who couldn’t come today here for any reason, and good
morning to my adoptive family who are here from Texas,
California, New York, and, of course, Boston. Thank you all for coming. [APPLAUSE] Good morning to my brother
in Brazil and good morning to my mom and dad
who are in Syria, all of whom cannot come here
because of the travel ban put on Syrians. I pray that you can
watch me now live and not sitting in the
darkness of the daily blackout. I know when my mom
will be watching this, she will be crying and saying
in Arabic [SPEAKING ARABIC].. Means may the name of
Jesus may upon you. Well, I hope she will be
laughing now after my joke. On behalf of my family, of
my parents, and be on behalf of the Syrian
people, I really want to thank my classmates
who nominated me today to stand here. This is the best gift my
parents would have dreamed of, and this is the best
compensation for their absence. Thank you, guys. [APPLAUSE] It was impossible
in my first year at HDS when I was
waking up every night with panic attacks because
of the language barrier. To imagine that I would
be standing here today in front of some of the
most or the smartest people in the world
trying to speak clearly and fluently
and in a good way and trying not to make
silly mistakes in English, I think I’m better
than when I was before, but I will try my best. I hope today to share with
you what divinity school has offered us and what we can
in turn offer to the world. When I came to the
divinity school in 2016, I came with many questions
and a lot of tensions in my spiritual, intellectual,
moral, and political views. I was expecting these
tensions to be resolved. However, they were not. Let me share with you today
four significant tensions that became relevant during
my journey here at HDS. The first and the most clear
or the clearest tension that I and every
single student here have faced since our first
class, Theories and Methods, is the tension between
theory and practice. What can we do
and what should we do to deal with the tension
between the academic knowledge we have gained here and the
practical needs of ministry and the world. What can we really
offer people who are in need and outside
the academic bubble? In classes, we
languished with text on eschatology, epistemology,
post-structuralism, a prophetic tradition,
facticity, the anthology, and a lot of other -ologies
and -isms you can imagine. [APPLAUSE] I would be very, very happy
if someone could tell me what all these mean. I hope Dean will keep our
certificates after that. I do not want to ignore
the importance of academia, the necessity of theory. And yet I struggle not
to be swallowed by it. I do not want to forget
that the ultimate goal is to make difference in the real
world, not only in academia, and yet I don’t want to be
solely defined by limits of practical experience. It’s a big tension, isn’t it? The second tension is the
religious and spiritual tension since we are divinity
school students after all. A serious tension I have
had in HDS when I came is how I can find
balance between, on the one hand, my tendency
to be a revolutionary, to be critical, able to fit in
the modern world and then new approaches to religion
and, on the other hand, my firm roots in history,
in tradition, in the Bible, and conventional ways
to approach religion. I really struggled
in my first year because I wanted to be faithful
to Jesus, to my tradition and beliefs as a Christian,
and conscious and aware of any attempts to
tamper with what has been essential to the church
history throughout the years. And yet I want to be
able to deconstruct what is unhealthy and harmful. I want to have the
courage to challenge what needs to be challenged. And this is not the
only religious tension. I also struggled with
how I can find balance between my belief in Jesus as
the absolute universal truth coming from a conservative
church in Syria and, on the other hand, the
beauty, and the richness and the genuineness I
have learned and seen in my colleagues from
the religious others. HDS is a very unique
space because it offers us a place that can hold these
religious tensions in a very healthy way. My classes and my
classmates in HDS helped me wrestle
with this tension and see the importance
of its both sides. HDS classes respected
our freedom as seekers to determine what is
in our tradition needs to be maintained and what
needs to be challenged. It respected our
spiritual journeys, and it did not impose
any particular agenda. The third tension is
related to politics, America’s favorite pastime. [LAUGHTER] I want to be able to advocate to
my political views, for what I really stand for,
for what I really see as important
to a just country and to healthy community. I want to do that and
be unapologetic about my political stand and what– and my perspective
of right and wrong. At the same time, I don’t
want to be polarized, intolerant, isolated,
forced to live in a bubble with the people who
are just like me. When I left Syria,
the country was engulfed in civil war,
torn between those who are proponents of the regime
and those who are opposing it. Both were completely and
still completely convinced that they are serving the
country, but they are not. In fact, this polarization
was the thing that torn the country more and more. I feel terrified when I
witness today in the US a similar polarization,
this country that adopted me and offered me
the best education and probably the best employment
in the future. The tension between
the necessity of standing for what we
think as right and politics and not allowing that to
build walls between us and those who see things as
completely different than us is a huge difference. The last tension that
I want to address today is one on a deeper level. It’s grief versus hope. How I can live
fruitfully within that the tension between
acknowledging and facing my grief, my trauma, my loss,
my oppression, my imperfections, and all the things by which I
am challenged on the one hand and taking responsibility
for my life and generating hope in order to move forward
and survive on the other. A big tension during
my journey at HDS was my continuous feeling that I
am a victim of the war in Syria and the travel ban in the US,
a situation which prohibited me from seeing my mom, who had
breast cancer, my dad, who had open heart surgery, and
my uncle, who passed away without being able to see any
of them and the possibility that I might not be able to see
them for more couple of years in the future. You can add to that my
struggle with severe anxiety and mild depression. I want to acknowledge
all of these issues and not run away from them,
and yet I want to live, I want to love, and
I want to be loved. [APPLAUSE] I really strive to
be authentic and not to play the victim
role, to justify actions that are against my
morals and use people because I am stuck in this
mentality of victim role. This mentality is toxic. The victim role
mentality is toxic. I want to fight to keep hope
and make meaning of all things that I don’t have control over. Class of 2019, our
time at HDS is only the beginning of our journeys. The list of tensions
I have shared is absolutely not comprehensive. I asked some HDS colleagues
on Facebook before I– after I was selected
about what are their– what are your tensions in life. And I got similar responses
and a lot others– self-care and helping others,
faith and doubt, intimacy and boundaries, construction
and deconstruction, justice and forgiveness, and even
tension about having tension. And you can add your own list. Every moment, we have tensions. Every single moment,
we have tensions. Right now, we are
facing tensions between the excitement
of graduation and anxiety of what is next, our
joy of accomplishment and our sadness of leaving
people to whom we have been connected very deeply. I have a very serious
tension right now. I’m trying my best to look
confident and impress you, look amazing, and– [APPLAUSE] And something inside me
saying, don’t try to do that. Just be yourself and just
be authentic and genuine. Back to what HDS offered us and
what we can offer to the world. For me the answer is this. HDS helped me accept
tensions, to dwell with them, to befriend them, and yet to
grapple and wrestle with them and use that energy to fuel
myself and serve the world. My time at HDS has shown me that
tension actually is empowering. This realization
is a great thing we can actually
offer to the world because it will help us
awaken, see a reality, face the tension,
and approach them with a constructive power
instead of a destructive one. My friends, some tensions
really threaten to hold us back. But what we can
offer to the world is that insight that
tensions in our life can pull us forward to
find hope and meaning in our ultimate source of love. Class of 2019, I will
use my mom words– [SPEAKING ARABIC] And congratulations! [APPLAUSE] Thanks so much, Tony, and
thanks for drawing attention to our ability to leave
tensions unresolved at HDS. And thank you for
seeing it as empowering. This morning in Tercentenary
Theatre, 108 degrees were conferred on the graduating
class of 2019 of the Divinity School. Inclusive of degrees earned
in November and March and May, these are
comprised of 72 master of theological studies,
33 masters of divinity, and three doctors of theology. So today we have the opportunity
in a more intimate setting to celebrate these degrees
and the individual attainments that they represent. Each graduate will be
presented by the associate dean for enrollment and student
services, Tim Whelksy. As each person comes forward
to receive their degree at the graduate has indicated
a desire for us to do so, a brief statement
about their plans will be read by Steph Gauchel,
assistant dean for student affairs. So we will now award
diplomas by degree beginning with the
MTS candidates. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC PLAYING] We now present the
graduates for the master of theological studies. As dean mentioned,
we have a tradition of reading a personal
statement for each graduate if they’ve chosen
to provide one, and we encourage
you to celebrate the accomplishments of
these wonderful people however you choose. So clap and holler as much
as you’d like, but please hold your expressions to
the end of their statement so you get to hear all of it. Micheala will now get started. Michaela Shane Allen. Micheala thanks her partner
for late night visits to CVS to buy fizzy
water and gummy bears, necessities for paper
writing and Chinese studying. She also thanks her family
friends and professors. [APPLAUSE] Maryam Al Morad. Maryam is grateful for the
lessons she has learned and for the ones
that are yet to come. She is ever indebted to
her parents and loved ones. She can’t wait to read books
that weren’t assigned to her. [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] Sam Ames. After graduation, Sam will
be returning to their work as a civil rights lawyer,
representing survivors of religious trauma at
intersections of LGBTQ rights and mental health. [APPLAUSE] Nora [INAUDIBLE]. In the fall, Nora will be
pursuing a PhD in anthropology at Stanford. She thanks her husband
Mohammed and family for all the love and support
that has carried her this far. [APPLAUSE] Jonathan Scott Badly. Jonathan would like
to thank his wife Amy for all of her patience
and support over the last two years. He will begin a PhD in early
modern European history at Vanderbilt
University in the fall. [APPLAUSE] Danny Ballen, Jr. After graduation, Danny
will return to Key West with his fiancee Michael to
learn how to fish and scuba dive, to plan a wedding, and
to apply to doctoral programs. [APPLAUSE] Courtney Suzanne Byther. Courtney is grateful for
the love and strength of her friends at HDS. She is also grateful for
the graduate students union. After graduating, Courtney
plans to get a dog and name it Tater Tot. [APPLAUSE] Shannon Katherine Bowly. Shannon is incredibly
thankful to the community she found here at HDS and
who helped bring her here. She couldn’t have done
it without her family. We made it, hallelujah. [APPLAUSE] Margaret Botros. Margaret will begin studying
medicine at Case Western Reserve University. She thanks her family for their
constant support, especially her mother, Maureen, whose
example motivates Margaret to be her best self. [APPLAUSE] Bronwen King Callahan. Bronwen is leaving
for Jordan next year to be a history
and social studies teacher at King’s Academy. [APPLAUSE] Siu Chen. Siu is grateful for the
opportunity to study at HDS. After graduation,
she will continue to study Buddhism and lead
the path to spread the Dharma. May all beings be
peaceful, happy, and free. [APPLAUSE] Bill Connors. Bill would like to thank his
partner Jeff for his support during a two-year long
distance relationship while Bill pursued his
divinity school dream or as Jeff calls it
Bill’s midlife crisis. [APPLAUSE] Zachary Steven Davis. Zach is grateful to his wife
Maria, his parents Stephen and Michelle, his second
parents Alexander and Natalia, and his HDS mentors Diane
Moore, David Holland, Michelle Sanchez, and Charlie Stang. Zach is accompanied by his
child, Ariel Alexander Davis. [APPLAUSE] Emma Dorothea Delisle. [APPLAUSE] John Henry Devoy, IV. In September, John will begin
further medieval history graduate work at the
University of Cambridge. There he will research
Persian legacy and medieval Byzantium under
Dr. Peter Sarris’s direction. [APPLAUSE] Kristin Nicole Dyer. Nicole would like to express
her gratitude to her family and friends, especially
her roommates for keeping her sane
and alive long enough to finish her masters. [APPLAUSE] Peter Jay [INAUDIBLE]. Peter would like to thank
his family and teachers for all of their support. He’ll be starting the
program in religious studies in the fall at Harvard. [APPLAUSE] Fatima Albacore. [APPLAUSE] Fatima will continue her
studies at Stanford’s teaching and education program. She hopes to become a high
school English teacher. She wants to thank
God, family, friends, and the youth of Roxbury. [APPLAUSE] Clarissa Lysette Flores. [APPLAUSE] Clarissa is thankful for her
loving family and friends who supported her throughout
her journey from near and far. She especially wants to
thank all those who traveled to celebrate this day with her. [APPLAUSE] Myra Fox. [APPLAUSE] Hannah Gays. Hannah isn’t sure
what she’s doing yet, but her focus on Russia and
the far right seems relevant. [LAUGHTER] Still she’d like to
thank her friends, family, boyfriend, and caffeine
for making this degree happen. [APPLAUSE] Anais Garvanian. Anais will be teaching in a
local private school next year. She is grateful for her
HDS peers and mentors and is especially happy that
her family is here today. [APPLAUSE] Ocean Gibson. Ocean extends a special thank
you to his advisor Michelle Sanchez and to Dan
McKinnon for supervising his research this semester. He looks forward to
crossing paths with you all in the coming years. [APPLAUSE] Kaitlin Rae Gordon. Katie is working with Nuns
& Nones, a collaboration between Catholic sisters
and spiritually diverse millennials. This summer she will be living
with the Erie Benedictines as the Joan Chittister intern. [APPLAUSE] William Richard Green. William would like to thank
God for the opportunity to attend Harvard, his advisor
Dr. Lupina for guidance and opportunities,
and especially his extraordinary wife Joanna
for her insight and support. [APPLAUSE] Yin Gwan. Yin we’d like to dedicate
her graduation from Harvard to her parents, Chung
Way Gwan and Min Way Gao, who immigrated to
America 19 years ago. This moment belongs to them. [APPLAUSE] Stuart Robertson Hariama. Stuart is grateful
to his HDS peers for their support and
friendship during this journey. He will be going
back home this summer to enjoy the majestic landscape
of the Pacific Northwest. [APPLAUSE] Alexa Herlans. [APPLAUSE] Sadhatta Aesha Jackson. [APPLAUSE] Sanat Jamal. [APPLAUSE] [INAUDIBLE] John. [APPLAUSE] [INAUDIBLE] would like to give
a special thanks to his family friends and advisor Professor
Walton for their unwavering support and belief in him. He’ll be pursuing
a PhD in religion at Harvard in the fall. [APPLAUSE] Ciara Jones. [APPLAUSE] Ciara is grateful for
her friends and family from the various
facets of her life that have chosen to
celebrate with her today. She is happily returning
to sunny California and hopes to never shovel
snow again in this lifetime. [APPLAUSE] Veronique Lenae Jones. Veronique thanks her entire
family for being her rock. She dedicates this diploma to
her papa Booker T Jones, II, who showed her the radical love
of her lord and Savior Jesus Christ. [APPLAUSE] Lamia Conduker. Lamia thanks her parents
Roxanna and Mohammed for being endlessly supportive
of their daughter’s goals. All of her successes
are because of them, and this is their day
as much as it is hers. Julia Clan. Instead of wandering through
the stacks of Widener Library, Julia will spend the summer on
a road trip exploring Iceland. She is thankful for the love
and support of her family and her partner Julian. [APPLAUSE] Tusung Lee. Megan Beely. One day, Megan pack your
bags of books and paper. One day she said
goodbye to Mango Street. Family did not know she went
away to come back for the ones she left behind, for
the ones who cannot out. [APPLAUSE] Courtney Luke. [APPLAUSE] Courtney would like to
thank her family and friends for their love and support. [APPLAUSE] Jonathan Murray Merkransky. Jonathan thanks his
mom, dad, and Rose for their unwavering
love and support and professors Gyatso,
Halisy, and Click for their wise presence in
his academic and vocational journey. [APPLAUSE] Faith McClure. Faith expresses
enormous gratitude to professors Michael
Jackson, Charlie Halisy, and Jenika Atso for
their wisdom, dedication, and brilliance. [APPLAUSE] David Melton. David is deeply thankful for
the loving support of his family and friends. Those moments of doubt,
exhaustion, and near surrender never fail to point out
beauty and awaken hope. [APPLAUSE] Christopher Lee Maury. Christopher is deeply
grateful to his mother Mara Lews and his wife
Wendy who supported him pursuing his passion. He happily returns to Arizona
for family, real Mexican food, and In and Out. [APPLAUSE] Alejandra Oliva. After graduation,
Alejandra will be working at the National
Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago. She wants to thank
her family and partner for their love and support. [APPLAUSE] Keshu Pon. Keshu is deeply grateful
for encountering all the amazing professors,
mentors, and friends here at HDS. He will be working in the field
of international education while pursuing his
dream of writing. [APPLAUSE] Damanpreet Singh Pelia. Damanpreet will be
continuing his studies as a doctoral student
at Yale University. He would like to thank
his friends and family for their love and support. [INAUDIBLE] [INAUDIBLE] wants
to thank her family, people who loved her and she
loves for their patient– patience and hope. Graduation reminds
her of everyone who has touched her life. Many, many thanks. [APPLAUSE] Danielle Perrier. [APPLAUSE] Aly Margaux [INAUDIBLE]. Aly would like– Aly would like to thank
her parents James and Fiona and her brother
Cameron for their love. [APPLAUSE] Yung Tu. Yung would like to thank
his family for their love and support
throughout the years. In September, Yung will
join the Department of South Asian studies at
Harvard as a PhD student. [APPLAUSE] Abhijith Ravinutala. Abi is grateful for
everyone at HDS, especially Professor Monius
and Halisy, who made him a better Hindu and person. He will be working full
time and writing fiction on modern Hinduism. [APPLAUSE] Byron Russell. Byron is thankful for a
great academic experience at HDS and for the
wonderful community here. [APPLAUSE] Denise Schlickbernd. Denise is deeply grateful to
her blood and heart families and her advisor Professor
Giles for their support. This fall, she’ll apply to
counseling psychology PhD programs and revel in
full-time employment. [APPLAUSE] Shannon [INAUDIBLE] Schmidt. Shannon will be
continuing her projects at MIT and her work in
political campaigning. She is deeply grateful
to her consolation of loving supporters, especially
her parents Suzanne and James. [APPLAUSE] Andrew David Siegel. [APPLAUSE] Mariam Siddiqui. Mariam will be
continuing her studies as a doctoral
candidate at Columbia University in the fall. She would like to thank
her parents for their love and support. [APPLAUSE] Barbara Elaine Silva. Barbara would like to
express her sincere gratitude to her family,
friends, and the HDS community for their
immense support during these two years of
exploration and growth. [APPLAUSE] Michelle Madigan Somerville. Michelle is grateful for
her family, HDS staff, her professors,
and HDS colleagues. Kiki Sykes. Passionate about
the intersections of trauma, gender,
and spirituality, Kiki begins a hospital chaplaincy
residency in Minneapolis this fall. She leaves HDS grateful for
the nourishment of loved ones. [APPLAUSE] Yuan Tau. Yuan is great– Yuan is grateful
that HDS has not only helped her to succeed
on her academic journey but also taught her how to love,
understand, and serve people better. [APPLAUSE] Thomas Verghese. Thomas is grateful to HDS for
creating an open and safe space to ponder the most difficult and
profound questions of religion. He thanks his family for
the unflinching faith, love, and encouragement. [APPLAUSE] Valerie Wagenfeld. [APPLAUSE] William Reese Walker. Will wants to thank his
friends, family and teachers for their warmth and support
during his time at HDS. He’ll be staying in
Cambridge next year to enroll at Harvard Law School. [APPLAUSE] Chris Williams. Chris thinks her mother
and is grateful for HDS, Bobo’s Caretakers,
the Williams of Weaver and the Kindred Canadian. Never say goodbye
because goodbye means going away and going
away means forgetting. [APPLAUSE] Manwell Zinquist. A special show of
gratitude for those who lost their lives
in Hurricane Maria and to those on the island
who are subsequently endured. Decolonize Puerto Rico,
decolonize the world. [APPLAUSE] [INAUDIBLE] Jong. [INAUDIBLE] offers
thanks and praise to our loving parents
Miss [INAUDIBLE] and Miss [INAUDIBLE] coffee
pods as many as you want. After graduation, [INAUDIBLE]
is camping in Yosemite with her family and black bears. [APPLAUSE] Shaharyar Zia. Shaharyar plans to
continue his research on Islamic intellectual,
social, and cultural history focusing on the Near
East and South Asia. He is thankful for his time at
Harvard and to the HDS family. [APPLAUSE] Will the MTS
graduates please rise. [APPLAUSE] Dean Hampton– Dean Hampton, members of the
faculty, family, and friends, I present to you the master
of theological studies graduates of 2019. [APPLAUSE] You may be seated. [MUSIC PLAYING] We will now present
the graduates for the degree of
master of divinity. Donald Abram. [APPLAUSE] Don hails from the
Southside of Chicago, which he boasts so proudly. During his time at
HDS, he has studied the intersections of race,
religion, and politics. [APPLAUSE] Sidra Armughan Ali. To Miss Armughan
Ali and Mr. Haider Ali for the oceans you
crossed, the homes you built, and the sacrifices you
made, we thank you. To our guardians of HDS
Angel and Eddy, keep rocking. To William, cheers. [APPLAUSE] Tony Amoury Alkhoury. [APPLAUSE] Tony is grateful to all
people who supported him in completing the first step
in God’s call to his life. He is ready to explore the next
step in the journey of loving God, himself, others. [APPLAUSE] Nina Sophia Brice. Nina is thankful to her family
for their wisdom support and love. After graduation, she
will continue her work with mindfulness
programming for young adults at Harvard College
and elsewhere. [APPLAUSE] Israel Bufarty. Israel is entering ministry
in the United Unitarian Universalist Association. He is eternally grateful for the
love and support of his partner Abigail and can’t wait for the
arrival of their first born. [APPLAUSE] Eric Michael Bussey. Eric will continue
studying human development and social ethics as a
doctoral student in the fall. He is grateful for his
family and for his partner Justin whose care
makes so much possible. [APPLAUSE] James Marsden Boland Clay. Bowe would like to thank
his family, Laura, Kathy, and Jerry, for their
unending support and wisdom throughout his time here at HDS. [APPLAUSE] Juliana Cohen. Juliana is grateful to
professors Browdy, Giles, Jackson, Halisy, and Crosco for
their time and unconditional support and for modeling for
her what commitment, compassion, trust, and brilliance look like. Juliana is accompanied by
her daughter Alma Cohen. [APPLAUSE] Christina Taina [INAUDIBLE]. [APPLAUSE] Christina thanks her family and
her mentors for their support. Starting this fall, she will
be pursuing a PhD in Africana religion at Emory. [APPLAUSE] Jamie Eileen Dingus. Jamie is grateful for the love
and support of her community of friends and family. She’s staying in
Somerville one more year as she continues to seek
ordination in the Unitarian Universalist Church. [APPLAUSE] Rebecca Dover Spike. Rebecca would like to thank
her family and friends who continually offer their
support to her life and are such a blessing. Rebecca will be embarking on
a chaplaincy residency at MGH in the fall. [APPLAUSE] Jamie Drucker. Jamie will continue
her Jewish journey as the director of undergraduate
programs at Harvard Hillel. She’s grateful to her family for
their endless love and support. She loves them to
the moon and back. [APPLAUSE] Aric Bernhard Fleming, Jr. [APPLAUSE] Aric will continue in his
pursuit of music and ministry after HDS. He is grateful for
his family and friends for all of their support
and their faith in him as he journeys ahead. [APPLAUSE] Brittany Louise Foster. [APPLAUSE] Brittany would like to dedicate
her degree to her late aunt Barbara Elaine Jacobs. She also would like to
express thanks and gratitude to her family, friends,
and loved ones. [APPLAUSE] Joshua Gregory. Joshua will be moving to
Houston to pursue an MFA degree in poetry at the
University of Houston this fall. [APPLAUSE] Xaxa He. Xaxa is grateful to HDS for its
three years supportive funding and community that helped
her finish her MDiv degree. Xaxa will become a mother
and continue her education at law school after graduation. [APPLAUSE] Wilson Hood. Wilson will begin work
as a hospital chaplain later this year. He believes you must
always have faith in people and most importantly
in yourself. Congratulations class of 2019. We did it. [APPLAUSE] Iman Bano Jaffray. Iman would like to
express deep appreciation to her parents Oshad
and Faruqa, siblings, and friends for their continued
love support and assertions that she can do whatever
she sets her mind to. [APPLAUSE] Elam David Jones. [APPLAUSE] Elam is grateful for the love
and support of his family and friends and to HDS
for most notably deepening his understanding of
spiritual care and counseling. After graduation,
he will continue serving in the role of
an officer and chaplain candidate for the US Navy. [APPLAUSE] John Paul La Pena. John Paul is grateful
for the love and support of his wife, family,
and his professors as well as everyone
who encouraged him except his high school
principal who said he would not go to college. [APPLAUSE] Vicky Dallin Lee. HDS is a treasured
gift to Vicky. She thanks the Dean, her
professors, classmates, Renata the research librarian,
Rock Cafe, HDS tech support, squirrels, mother oak tree,
God, Dora, Alexis, and Greg. [APPLAUSE] Isaac Provincio Martinez, Jr. Isaac will be ordained a
deacon in the Episcopal church this Saturday. He will be placed as a missional
curate in a Boston parish to explore new forms of
Christian gathering starting this summer. [APPLAUSE] Samantha Melton. Sam would like to
especially extend her thanks to her parents, all of her
supervisors and professors, and, of course, her wife
Britney for their endless love, support, and patience. [APPLAUSE] Samantha Menapace. [APPLAUSE] Muthana Petros [INAUDIBLE]. [APPLAUSE] Born in apartheid
South Africa, he would like to thank
his single mom Emily, the entire [INAUDIBLE]
clan living in ancestral for walking with him,
the Dennis, McKee, Keys, and Thomases for
believing in him. [APPLAUSE] Rafaela Muller. Rafaela will complete
a year of OPT, optional practical training,
before attending seminary and entering candidacy for a
dean ministry in the Lutheran church. [APPLAUSE] Brigid Allen Power. Brigid would like to thank her
family, classmates, teachers, mentors, and all
of the staff at HDS for supporting her over
the past three years. She is filled with gratitude. [APPLAUSE] Lisa Mary Richmond. Lisa would like to thank
her professors, friends, and family for their support
during her time at HDS. She would especially
like to thank her parents Fred and Anita for all their
love and encouragement. [APPLAUSE] Heather Rick. Heather is grateful for all
of those who have supported low-income students at HDS. She is looking forward
to the coming class war. [APPLAUSE] McLean Howard Sellers. Mack is returning
to the Midwest to be close to friends and
family while he figures out next steps. Thanks to his fam
for sticking with him through these past few years. Much love. [APPLAUSE] Ciara Eviva Talusken. Ciara will continue working as
a religion writer in New York. She is grateful to her
friends, family, and advisors and to all the fourth
century Egyptian monks who accompanied her
on this journey. [APPLAUSE] Cassie Underwood. Cassie is grateful for the love
and support of her husband Mike Murphy, her son Wallace, her
parents, family, friends, and guides at HDS and beyond. She dedicates this degree and
her career as writer, speaker, and teacher of spirituality
to her late aunt Lisa Underwood, a woman of valor,
good humor, and strength. [APPLAUSE] Sophia Rose Wellman. Sophia offers thanks for the
imagination, cooperation, and commitment
cultivated together. She will continue
these practices towards a just and peaceful
world free of nuclear weapons and war. [APPLAUSE] Dean Hampton, members of the
faculty, family, and friends, I present to you the Master
of Divinity graduates of 2019. Would you please rise
and be recognized? [APPLAUSE] And now you may be seated. [MUSIC PLAYING] We will now present
the graduates for doctor of theology. Reed Carlson. [APPLAUSE] Dissertation title “Possession
and Other Spirit Phenomena in Biblical Literature.” Reed thanks this family
for their support and encouragement. Next fall he begins
a new position as assistant professor
of Old Testament at United Lutheran
Seminary in Pennsylvania. [APPLAUSE] Emily Ryder Neal. [APPLAUSE] Dissertation title
“Troubling the Body– A Feminist Critique of
Corporeal Politics.” Emily graduates from
the religion, gender, and culture program 10 years
after the fact and gives thanks to Elizabeth Schüssler
Fiorenza and Dr. West. She returns to her dream
job at WGS at MIT tomorrow. Amen. [APPLAUSE] Axel Mark Oakes [INAUDIBLE]. [APPLAUSE] Dissertation title “Imagining
Forth the Incarnation– A Theopoetics of the Flesh.” Axel is thankful for the love
and support of his spouse Kim and for the joy that his
son Emery brings him. He will be joining the faculty
of the Department of Religion at Seton Hall
University in the fall. [APPLAUSE] Dean Hampton, members of the
faculty, family, and friends– let Axel take his photo. Beautiful. I present to you the
ThD graduates of 2009. You may stand and be recognized. [APPLAUSE] Congratulations. I just want to thank Tim
and Steph, Annie, Jamie, all the members of the Office of
Student Services for your work, thought, and effort to make
this ceremony so festive and so seamless and so beautiful. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] So now we get to eat
and drink and celebrate, so I hope to meet
and see many of you at our luncheon under the
tent on the Francis Avenue side of Andover Hall. I wish everyone the best
of luck and look forward to hearing about your
accomplishments in the future. All good wishes
from all of us here. [APPLAUSE] So I would ask that
our guests remain seated until all the graduates
are processed out of the tent and eaten all of the food. And so the platform
party and the faculty will now lead the
graduates out of the tent Thank you so much,
everyone, for being here. [MUSIC PLAYING]


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