Andrew Kuzma ’10 M.A.R.
B.A. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities 2008
Two years ago at orientation a professor said: “YDS will change you.” She was right. I have been changed. I was not surprised then, nor am I surprised now. We all know when an experience will change us, but that shouldn’t stop us from reveling in the surprise of how. I came to YDS looking for direction and preparation for a doctoral program, which is exactly what I found. But I still take joy in the how.
I knew that I wanted to pursue an academic study of Christianity, but my experience in areas like theology and liturgy was limited. For example, I had never heard of Karl Barth until he came up in Willis Jenkins’ Bonhoeffer and King course. That semester threw many more unknown names and terms at me. For the first time I was taking courses on theology, ethics and liturgy. This variety and the freedom to explore it led me to discover a passion for ethics. Since then I have learned about historical developments in Christian ethics with Frederick Simmons, environmental ethics with Willis Jenkins, and bioethics with David H. Smith. Courses on topics such as the historical Jesus and systematic theology ensured that I came out with a well-rounded education—and that I would never forget Karl Barth or how much he could write.
While YDS forced me to work hard, it also provided a community. Coming from an undergrad institution of 40,000 students, walking the halls of the Divinity School felt more like a high school. Nothing took the stress off an upcoming paper, presentation or final better than seeing friendly faces or a sharing a meal in the refectory. In particular, I found a place in the Catholic Fellowship. My wife and I looked forward to the weekly Thursday night Mass and dinner, which was always a time to relax and socialize. The best friends we made at Yale, we met at those dinners. This past year I had the privilege to lead the Catholic Fellowship with two other students. Although we ran into a few planning snafus, I look back on our work together with great warmth. Amidst the ecumenical atmosphere of YDS, this community led me to appreciate my own Catholic convictions more deeply.
This fall I will be starting a doctoral program in theological ethics at Marquette University in Milwaukee. I plan to study Catholic ethics, specifically as they relate to issues of pacifism, environmentalism, bioethics and social justice. YDS changed me; it helped me to discern my interests, and it prepared me to pursue those interests at a higher level. I always knew it would change me—but that just made the experience so much more enjoyable.