Shakira Sanchez-Collins ’11 M.Div.
B.A. Yale University 2008
I began my undergraduate studies at Yale College as a premedical student and a church musician who was beginning to discern a call to the pastoral ministry. From the beginning, I thought that medicine, music, and pastoral ministry would just be separate entities that I would be juggling throughout my life. Yet, it was during these four years that I began to look for ways to combine my interests. Therefore, I knew that for my Master of Divinity degree I needed to be at a place that would provide space for me to be tri-vocational as a musician, developing minster, and future physician. Thus, I chose YDS not just because it would be a great place for a theological education but because it also offered the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and the assets of the broader University.
During my time at YDS, my classroom encounters, peer conversations, courses, and travels expanded my understanding of my faith and ministry. At the end of my first year, I participated in a travel seminar to Salvador Da Bahia in Brazil where we explored the intersection of race, theology and politics and their effects on Afro-Brazilian communities. During my second year, I spent a semester abroad through an exchange program at Westcott Seminary in Cambridge, England. Through my parish experiences and courses, I was able to explore some of the roots of Methodism, particularly the liturgy of my denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, within the Church of England. While in Cambridge, I had the opportunity to take courses at Cambridge University, where I entered the conversation on topics such as the relationship between theology and science.
Both at YDS and in my exchange program, I was able to explore science and healing, from a theological perspective, both explicitly and implicitly. Whether it was a course on biomedical ethics, pastoral care, or Christian ethics, YDS provided me opportunities to begin looking at how faith and identity could potentially affect healing.
As a student of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, I was inspired to begin exploring sacred art and music and, thus inspired, to create my own liturgical works that could be used to both increase the worship resources of my denomination and help connect health and spirituality within the worship service. My studies even equipped me to work at the Community Alliance for Research Engagement (CARE) office at the Yale School of Public Health, where I coordinated faith-based health programs at African-American churches in the New Haven area in hopes of bridging some of the local health gaps.
From my experiences at YDS, I plan to continue to explore connections between faith and health while I pursue an M.D. at the Duke University School of Medicine in the fall. In October, I will also be completing the ordination process in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and will be ordained an Itinerant Elder. Entering into a vocation of health and ministry, I am convinced that YDS was the right place for me to continue my tri-vocational development as a musician, minister, and health professional.