"Trusting Your Head & Heart, and Going With Your Gut": Why I Chose Yale - Miriam Samuelson M.Div '15

Greetings!  Every year we feature short essays from YDS students explaining why they chose to attend Yale.

Today’s comes from Miriam Samuelson MDiv '15, who came to us from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.  Miriam is a boon to our campus.  Community-oriented and ministerially-focused, Miriam is one of those rare individuals who adds much more than she takes in every situation.  If you're building a team, you want her on it.  Always the first to volunteer, she didn't hesitate a moment when asked for a blog post, and she turned in one that, like herself, was both heartfelt and practical.  Thanks Miriam!

Some of the best decision-making advice I have ever received came from my father a few years back. “You can listen to your head about making a decision, and you can listen to your heart too, but ultimately, you have to listen to your gut and trust that.” When I was making decisions about where to attend divinity school, I took his advice, followed my gut, and ended up at YDS.

That’s not to say, of course, that head-centered and heart-centered factors didn’t make their way into my decision-making. As I thought about what I wanted in a divinity school education, intellectual depth and rigor were important to me. I have had humbling opportunities to learn from people who are known internationally for their work in Hebrew Bible, New Testament, preaching, and various iterations of theology. The professors I have had at YDS have been brilliant, kind, and inspiring. From lectures on Karl Barth to class discussions about the intersection of preaching and social issues, the intellectual depth of my experience at YDS has been nothing short of amazing.

The heart-centered decisions took a front seat too as I looked at what I wanted in a divinity school. I entered YDS having just started the process to become a pastor in the Lutheran Church (ELCA), and I found many opportunities to grow into the pastor whom I hope to become. I participated in the Annand program’s spiritual direction program, which has helped me intentionally process my experiences here and how I will carry them with me into my ministry. I did Clinical Pastoral Education, serving as a chaplain intern at a hospital, and that experience profoundly shaped how I think about life, death, and pastoral care. I did an internship (and received funding through YDS’s Office of Supervised Ministries for it) at Luther House at Yale, the undergraduate campus ministry in my own denomination here, and got to plan worship, lead Bible studies, and facilitate outreach programs.

And as all these experiences I’ve had at YDS swirl around in my mind and heart, they come to rest in the knowledge that this has absolutely been the perfect place for me to grow and stretch and develop as I seek to become a pastor. It’s in little moments that I know this—when I sit down in Marquand Chapel and let myself feel enveloped by my classmates’ beautiful singing; when I eat lunch on the quad on a sunny day with dear friends; when a semester ends and I marvel at how much I had learned that semester that I didn’t know before. In such moments I can feel it in my gut: This is why I’m here, and this is why I chose Yale Divinity School.