Illustration by Giulia Neri

Statistically, I should not be where I’m at, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) finishing a master’s degree. I am the daughter of refugees from Thailand and a first-generation college graduate. It is believed that I will be the first Hmong woman to graduate from TEDS.  I know the odds of my being in this place are slim, but I believe I am here by the grace of God.

That has not made the journey simple. I do not resemble a typical seminarian, and because of the pandemic I have not had the typical seminary experience. Despite that, attending seminary has been one of the best decisions of my life. In August 2019, I began my theological education journey as one of 14 residential students selected to join the TEDS Mosaic Ministries student cohort scholarship program, a campus ministry focused on multi-ethnic reconciliation, generously funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. I served as a student leader for a year by co-emceeing the Mosaic Gatherings, weekly guest lecturers to speak about reconciliation ministry. In my third year, I began working in the Dean’s Office to coordinate our remote Master of Divinity program launched in 2021.

The odds of my being in this place are slim, but I believe I am here by the grace of God.

As I complete my Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree, I now see that TEDS has been a great fit for me. I look back fondly at my memories of several spiritual formation communities that functioned as “arks,” or havens of hospitality, while I have been away from my hometown, La Crosse, Wisconsin. I have been a part of an Asian American-led missional community church plant that focused on preaching the Gospel and discipling in one’s own neighborhoods. Currently, I attend a multicultural church co-pastored by two TEDS alumnae and shepherded as a congregation by local families who dedicate themselves to the region. God used the rich diversity of Chicagoland to highlight the importance of ministering locally, expanding my vocational and ministerial imagination.

I am grateful for all those who have helped me and convinced it would have been a significant regret not to attend seminary. I have been greatly blessed by my decision to pursue a theological education and persevere through the pandemic. God’s provision to me came tangibly through Lilly’s generosity to TEDS that trickled down to me, but also spiritually through the peace gained from practicing “walking humbly with God” (Micah 6:8) from my first day forward.

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