August 30, 2018
Friar Award winner Erik Khoobyarian received his MDiv 20 years after initially enrolling in Princeton Theological Seminary. It was during his work as an attorney that Erik realized, while helping people through difficult times, that he’d been gathering tools for ministry. He would later draw upon those people skills to build community at PTS through dorm life.
“Choosing to sell most of my possessions and move across the country to a place I’d left two decades earlier was a huge step of faith for me and it was hard at first. But at the same time, it was very clear that this was what I was supposed to be doing and I was reaffirmed on a regular basis that this is where I was called to be.”
Latasha Milton received the Watermulder Award this year, which is given annually to the graduating senior who shows the greatest promise of exercising leadership in the church. She discovered through her coursework that she has a talent for ministering to intergenerational congregations, and credits PTS with giving her a strong theological foundation and social justice voice.
“My passion is doing what I can to empower and liberate people who are hurting. PTS has made me a better person and pastor because it’s given me the tools to better serve the oppressed and marginalized.”
Andre A. Samuels' field education at a correctional facility reaffirmed his commitment to prison ministry and social justice. After his field education experience, Samuels continued to explore his intersectional passions for prison ministry, social justice, and preaching through an independent study on crafting sermons for the incarcerated.
“Sometimes, when these young people don’t have a role model or mentor to look at them affirmatively, it’s really important to tell them that they are loved. That’s what young people need, especially in prison—someone to reinforce that they are lovable and redeemable and that their lives matter.”
PTS helped U.S. Airforce Veteran Courtney Ducharme appreciate that “the holy spirit helps open our eyes when the time is right for us.” The 2018 graduate spent a year-long chaplaincy at the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital in New York City, and her time there and in seminary showed her that she has a heart for compassionate pastoral care and gracious acceptance of people in their current circumstances.
“It was a great privilege to be in a trusting relationship and have so much in common with these vets, sharing their deepest fears and hopes for the future.”
2018 grad and former community organizer Sheena Rolle knew she wanted to come to PTS after attending a L.I.V.E. symposium in 2015. It was there that she saw the possibility of fully integrating theology with social justice to improve people’s lives, and knew that was something she could do.
“I didn’t have a lot of guidance in college on how to be ‘successful,’ but here I was able to form bonds with faculty. I could bounce ideas off of them, get insights and learn what they did in the world outside the classroom and how that could inform what I might be doing.”
Jamel “JJ” Flag had what he describes as a “Pentecostal experience” attending a service at Miller Chapel for the first time in 2015. The 2018 Princeton Theological Seminary graduate credits his time at PTS with helping him find his own voice when preaching, and discusses the importance of having supportive friends, family, and mentors.
“I want to help expand people’s understanding of what it means to be disabled and how people with disabilities can make a difference in the church.”