Thirty flags line the walls of Mackay Dining Hall, only a fraction of the countries represented in the Princeton Theological Seminary community. We sat down with MDiv student Samuel Márquez-Santa to talk about his hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico; his experiences at the Seminary; and his hopes for the future.
Q: Where is home?
A: I am from San Juan, Puerto Rico. My favorite thing about my hometown is the warmth of its people, the food, its music, and the richness of its natural scenery. Our cultural wealth is nurtured by the artistry and diversity of the population. Recently, the economic landscape of the island has changed dramatically due to a long recession and the destruction from Hurricane Maria in 2017 and several earthquakes in 2019. Amid this, the church is making a social impact by actively supporting the Puerto Rican people.
Q: What drew you to Princeton Seminary? What has your experience here been like?
A: What attracted me to consider Princeton Theological Seminary was the world-class caliber of the professors, the campus facilities, and the town of Princeton. As a student, I have found that the competence and diversity of the student body stimulates a high level of intellectual curiosity.
Since I previously lived in the United States, I have not experienced culture shock per se, but the language is still a challenge. What I like most about life in the Seminary is the exposure to a sensitive theological formation, a strong sense of camaraderie, and the opportunity to form new friendships with people from the US and around the world.
So far, every single class has been a very rewarding experience. An unexpected but pleasant surprise was Dr. Sonia Waters’ course, The Creative Unconscious and Visual Life. I didn’t expect to find this emphasis on the implementation of art as a ministry tool in a seminary setting.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Before coming to Princeton Seminary, I served at the First Hispanic Baptist Church in Philadelphia as part of the pastoral team. I hope to minister in Puerto Rico and among the Latin American community.