Alexander Peterson ‘12 M.Div.

B.A. Trinity University 2005

“Faith and Intellect.”  That’s the slogan of Yale Divinity School, and one that has meant a great deal to me over the past three years. I came to YDS after three years in the Peace Corps in Ghana. Ghana taught me many life lessons, not the least of which was the power people have when claiming to act in the name of the Divine. Working at a hospital, with local farming groups, HIV/AIDS patients and programs, and a cultural/religious reconciliation group opened my eyes to myriad ways of loving one’s self, family, and neighbor. I saw how the power of faith could be used at once to bring community and support, but also fracturing and pain-and this is what I came to YDS to try and understand.

PetersonI came to YDS because of its focus on service and servant ministry. I wanted a rigorous education that would allow me to discern potential calls to ordination, the classroom, and international development work. I also wanted a program that would push me, while also affording me the flexibility to dig deeper into these and other paths that might present themselves.

At YDS, I received the world-class education I expected. I took classes from professors who—often literally—wrote the book on the subject. I worked with and for ambassadors and academic giants. I received funding and support to visit and study in Saudi Arabia and Ghana. As the coordinator for Divinity School sports the past two years, I’ve been able to see my professors and fellow students outside of the classroom, and learn the lessons of respect, leadership, and discipline that sports bring. Through my internships at Marquand Chapel and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), I gained the practical experience with program planning and implementation that simply cannot be replicated in a classroom. One of my last projects, co-chairing the Class Gift program, allowed me to work with students, staff, faculty, and friends to give back to the community that has enriched our lives so very much (and we did so quite successfully, as we set a new record for participation with 79% of the class donating). In short, YDS opened possibilities for me to engage my mind, my body, and my soul.

Many people leave YDS with a firm sense of their call. I’m not one of those people. However, I’m leaving YDS confident that the past three years have shaped me and my understanding of my place in the global community. In the short term, I will continue research and work on peacebuilding at Yale, and work as a consultant at the United Nations. I have several options for the path I’ll take after that; likely, I’ll be working on international development issues in the States or abroad.

June 28, 2012
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