Graduate Profile: Rowan Alexandra Van Ness, MDiv '21

May 18, 2021
Rowan Van Ness, MDiv '21 / Courtesy photo
Rowan Van Ness, MDiv '21 / Courtesy photo

HDS communications reached out to our 2021 graduating students to hear from them in their own words about their experiences at HDS, the people who've helped and inspired them along their grad school journeys, and their plans for the future.

Words of Inspiration

"All poetry is prayer."

Favorite Class or Professor

I had some incredible classes at HDS including "Christian Sex" with Dr. Mark Jordan and "Communities of Knowledge: Science, Religion, and Culture in Medieval Europe and Islam" with Dr. Ahmed Ragab and Dr. Katie Park. Those two courses expanded my thinking and challenged my assumptions in more profound ways than I could have anticipated.

I also can not speak highly enough about the Boston Theological Interreligious Consortium (the "BTI"). I took three classes on practical theology at Boston University and another course at Hartford Seminary and loved getting to meet other students and learn in other kinds of ways. I absolutely adored "Paradigms of Racism, the Ignorance They Hide, and the Harms They Sustain" with Dr. Courtney Goto and Dr. Chris Schlauch at BU and well as "Trauma and Theology" with Dr. Shelly Rambo.

I also can't speak highly enough about the opportunity to take courses at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. All three courses I took were amazing, including "Facilitating Professional Learning for Adults" with Dr. Candace Bocala, "Writing Workshop," and "Dis/Ability in Context."

Message of Thanks

I'd like to thank my advisor, Dan McKanan, for his steadfast commitment to his students, advisees, and his values. I deeply appreciate the time and commitment of all of my professors and teaching fellows for the ways they drew out and deepened my learning. I am so grateful for the support of the staff at HDS and missed them dearly during the pandemic. My field education supervisors and fellow interns provided a *significant* source of both my learning and support, and these opportunities were what made me feel most able to keep going. I'm unbelievably grateful for my classmates—my colleagues who challenged me and cheered for me. I am grateful for every risk taken in the classroom in the name of learning and in the name of justice.

Lastly, and most importantly, I'm grateful for those who made it possible for me to attend graduate school. For my parents and my partner for loving and supporting me, my colleagues who encouraged me to consider divinity school, and my friends who put up with my fears, joys, and struggles.

Future Plans

Starting in August 2021, I will be a ministerial intern at the First Unitarian Universalist Society in Burlington, Vermont. After that, the future's wide open!