Peer to Peer: Words of Wisdom from Princeton Seminarians

Princeton Seminary students share advice for making the most of seminary

To mark the start of the spring semester, we asked current students to share peer-to-peer advice for their fellow seminarians. We hope their astute observations and words of encouragement resonate with readers.

Jenna Reed 300x300

“Take a deep breath. It’s going be okay. Try to meet each other’s eyeline; look each other in the eye. We’re at risk of becoming reading machines. We’re at risk of making others into reading machines. But we’re all human.”
—Jenna Reed, MDiv student

"During my time with the PTS community I have learned two salient lessons: 1) ‘Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.’ We will have seasons for the former and the latter. And 2) maintaining friendships requires being intentional and most of the time, it is life giving."
—Hector Herrera, MDiv/MACEF student

Jalen Baker 300x300

“Seminary has been a very rigorous intellectual and spiritual journey for me. Princeton has given me the space to think deeply about my faith tradition in all of its deficiencies and its richness. In doing this work it has allowed me to broaden my theological views while also honing the ideas that are essential to my theological perspective. So, I would advise all seminarians to embrace the rigor of Princeton and allow it to challenge you to the core. Because when we have the audacity to grapple with the things that challenge us, God will do the work of growing and maturing us into the children of God we were created to be.”
—Jalen Baker, MDiv student

Riley Pickett 300x300

“If your first year is hard — socially, theologically, academically, mentally, and/or emotionally — please know you are not alone and that this is a common experience. I guarantee other people are struggling too. Take heart, be honest with your classmates, and reach out to middlers and seniors who have been there.”
—Riley Pickett, MDiv student

“Be present in every moment, don’t take yourself too seriously but recognize the value of your contribution, value health and relationships over grades and ‘accomplishments,’ and read the Bible, pray for understanding, struggle with the reality that you could be wrong.”
—Jeremy Lambson, MDiv/MACEF student

Austin Mathews 300x300

“Pursue international field education! You don’t have to feel ‘called’ to apply for international field ed. It’s a free (you pay nothing!) summer that will grant you a new perspective on a large world and a bigger God. The 11 weeks I spent in Mizoram, India redirected my life. In the remote hills of a tribal community I preached and taught and shared more than I ever have before. I woke every morning grateful to be alive. I still text and video chat my supervisor and the friends I made. I returned there for two weeks in 2018 and I plan to hopefully stay again after graduation. I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. Take advantage of the best program PTS has to offer and go international.”
—Austin Mathews, MDiv student

“Carve out time for Sabbath. The thought of not doing any work for one whole day might seem impossible (and terrifying), but you can do it and it will make a difference. Take that day to rest and connect with God in whatever way works for you. If we can't practice Sabbath here, then where can we?”
—Elizabeth Steel, MDiv student

Nicholas Young 300x300

“Take every chance to laugh seriously. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Find good food, eat it. And never become “too big” to say your grace or night time prayers.”
—Nicholas K. Young, MDiv/MSW student

“My words of wisdom would be take care of yourself and take care of each other. Find your people, take naps, take your time eating in the cafeteria, pray for your classmates, if that’s your thing. This place is tough — classes are hard, community living can be rough around the edges, and don’t get me started on job searching — but it can also be what you make it.”
—Shawna Gordon, MDiv student

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church, Crystal City, Missouri

Joshua Noah, Class of 2015

“Through my field education placement at Trinity Presbyterian Church in East Brunswick, New Jersey, I discovered my gift to minister to all age groups.”