Why did you choose to attend the University of Chicago Divinity School?
I actually was not planning on attending the University of Chicago Divinity School when the University offered me admission to the program. Based on my limited web interaction, I had perceived the Divinity School at the University of Chicago to be mostly "Western Traditions" oriented and "limited" for multi-faith based learning, as my primary interests lie in multi-faith engagement. However, I was proven very wrong when I visited the campus on Prospective Students Day and met current faculty and students. Especially, the warm welcome from a student body that was fairly diverse in academic interests and religious traditions encouraged me. In addition, the sense of commitment that I received from the Ministry Program Director and other faculty toward fostering multi-faith learning and scholarship at the Divinity School really impressed me. I had found a place where I was to be intellectually challenged and vocationally fostered.
What activities do you participate in outside of the classroom? (community service, work, hobbies, etc.)
When I came to the University of Chicago and encountered academic workshops and groups, it felt like I was in a religious-scholarship wonderland. During my first quarter, I was attending at least one lecture or talk every week on various religious topics. I also joined the Spiritual Life Council (SLC) and became a core member of the Greening the Divinity School group. Through SLC and Greening, I have had opportunities to cultivate my interests in interfaith engagement and environmental fields. I have had many other opportunities to get involved around campus such as attending the World Parliament of Religions event, volunteering at a local food pantry, attending a retreat at Starved Rock Park, watching the White Sox, playing intramural soccer and others, to name a few.
Tell us a little about your engagement in a faith community (chaplaincy, advocacy work, etc.)
I have just started to get engaged in the local faith communities in and around Chicago. With a Hindu-Buddhist background, I have had limited opportunities to have a direct involvement in a specific community. However, I have had multiple excellent opportunities to do interfaith-based work via the Spiritual Life Council, student groups like the Faith and Community Leadership Network and Rockefeller Chapel. Attending local churches has also become a significant part of my life. Ministry Colloquium class, in itself, has become crucial in cultivating my personal faith through conversations and engagements with the faculty and cohort-mates. In addition, Night Ministry engagement in local communities as a part of Ministry vocational training has been an important part of my experience at the University of Chicago.
How do you like living in Chicago?
Although it is very cold outside currently, it has been excellent overall. I have very much enjoyed living in this city. Chicago's proximity to Lake Michigan and its beauty makes Chicago a fantastic place to be during the summertime. CTA trains and buses are very convenient in exploring the rich diversity of the city. I have had opportunities to experience the diverse and complex make-up of the city through global cultures, multi-faith traditions, amazing ethnic foods and the vibrant demography that comes alive in every block of Chicago.
What do you plan to do after you have completed your degree from the Divinity School?
I am planning on investing in interfaith understanding among young adults in academic settings. Specifically, I am hoping to pursue a religious leadership role in Higher Education. Multifaith engagements during my college education played a significant role in shaping me, and I plan to pursue a career that will allow me to cultivate interfaith understanding and engagement on college and university campuses, as such efforts have become crucial in recent years.