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Advice for Incoming Seminarians

Princeton Seminary students share words of wisdom for first-year seminarians

To welcome our incoming class of seminarians, current students offered their advice and shared some thoughts about discovering the warmth and breadth of our covenant community. As student Maci Sepp says, “We’re in Princeton!” where the possibilities are endless.


Michael Cuppett 300x300

“Be okay with messiness. Ministry starts from the day you walk on campus. Remember that this is not purely the classroom — cafeteria meals at Mackay, dealing with administrators and other students, meeting people in your classes, going to chapel, and going to worship are all part of broader ministry. If you don’t minister while here, it’s going to be even harder when you enter a professional setting. So develop times of rest and Sabbath now, develop times of spiritual growth and formation here. Ministry starts now.”
—Michael Cuppett, MDiv student


“Don't overlook worship! Even when I feel overwhelmed with all that needs to get done—perhaps especially then—worship has helped me reconnect with Christ, with my own call, and with this community. As much as you can, participate in the various opportunities we have to worship. It can challenge, inspire, and sustain you in the work you do here and beyond this place.”
—Margaret Poteet, MDiv student


Harlan Redmond 300x300

“Dear Incoming Juniors,

Welcome to PTS! Speaking from experience, I know that there will be a lot to process on this new faith journey. Nevertheless, I would like to offer three suggestions on how to survive/thrive your first semester here at PTS. First, reach out to middlers or seniors. You will find that they are eager to help because they remember what it was like to be in your shoes.

Second, take advantage of what I call 'smaller learning communities.' These are groups that like to get together and study, preferably in advance, in order to fully internalize all that you will need for exams. I would definitely study weekly rather than wait for reading week.

Third, find an outlet through sports or some activity that will allow you some time to not think about theology (this is a form of self-care, trust me).

I cannot wait to meet all of you!”
—Harlan Redmond, MDiv student


Hannah Hawkinson 300x300

“Don't be afraid to take a step out of the Seminary community every once in awhile. Find something outside of classes and church life that you really enjoy doing or that you've always wanted to try. Take a cooking class! Read for fun! Visit a new place, near or far! In my experience, spending some time outside of the 'Seminary bubble' — even just an hour or two here and there — has helped me to engage with and appreciate the wonderful community here even more!”
—Hannah Hawkinson, MDiv student


“Go to chapel! Hear different preachers and experience different worship styles. Dedicate that time for your heart in the same way you dedicate time for your studies.”
—Kelly Spencer, MDiv student


Eric Fung 300x300

“You need to swim in personal devotions and fellowship. I have met some great friends here, and we have started an accountability group to keep each other grounded. But even staying within the PTS community creates a bubble. Join your church’s small group and find mentors who will willingly invest in your call to ministry. And make sure to sabbath. Many of us also work multiple jobs to help pay for tuition and rent, but God created the Sabbath so that we could rest, grow closer to Him, and draw from His power to accomplish the tasks set before us. In particular, I like playing basketball with classmates. But the Princeton area also has much else to offer: Terhune Orchards and Grounds for Sculpture are both fun outdoor walks. If you are looking for a free activity, explore Princeton University. To all returning students, welcome back! And to all incoming students, welcome to PTS! ‘And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God’ (Micah 6:8).”
—Eric Fung, MDiv student


Maci Sepp 300x300

“Take advantage of what's going on around you. We're in Princeton (!!!), so if a lecture or event sounds even the least bit interesting, it's probably worth checking out. You might learn something new, discover a new passion, or meet others who share your interests. So much of the Seminary experience happens outside of the classroom, and you don't want to miss it.”
—Maci Sepp, MA(TS) student


”There is a prayer room downstairs in the chapel. In that prayer room is a massage chair. Pick a time every week, take your headphones, pick a good playlist, and go get a massage. You’ll always need it more than you realize.”
—Nii Abrahams, MDiv student


Ryan Pearce 300x300

“Get involved with a church as soon as possible and really deeply engage with that church. You need a community outside of PTS that isn't seminarians. It takes a village.

Ask people about their stories and how they got to PTS, you’d be amazed at the people God brings here. As you learn their stories, make sure you share yours as well, it's a valuable one to our community.

Don't freak out about the OT midterm and final. Study hard, but don’t stress yourself out about it, you will be fine. Also, Amos was from Tekoa, so now you know an answer to your final test!

Read your bible devotionally and pray, even when it sucks to. It's really helpful to retain a link to the non-scholastic side of faith amidst getting educated for Jesus, and it will make the deconstruction a bit easier (or it did for me).

Be open to seminary being a challenging season. This time is meant to form you holistically, not just education wise. When iron is being sharpened, it is a grating, spark-inducing, lengthy process, but the end result is much sharper than before.”
—Ryan Pearce, MDiv student

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Associate Rector at Trinity Church, Princeton, New Jersey

Nancy Hagner, Class of 2013

“Preaching is one of the most important things we do as pastors. You get to challenge people’s minds and hearts, as the gospel challenges all of us.”