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Interview with a BC Graduate Student: Stephen DeJute from the School of Theology and Ministry

Graduate school is on the minds of many seniors as the time to apply looms ominously closer.  As a senior myself, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked the question, “what about grad school?”.  Good question, what about it?  If you’re like me and you’re still unsure about the choice, this interview with Stephen DeJute, a student at the school of Theology and Ministry here at BC, will definitely provide you with some much needed piece of mind.  Stephen’s also a great example of finding and actually following your passion in life, which is something we’ve been told to do here at BC since freshman year orientation, and Stephen is proof that it’s actually possible!  This makes his academic advice not only great for graduating seniors, but for confused underclassmen as well!

Along with attending graduate school at BC, Stephen also attended BC for his undergraduate degree and is currently an RA in Stayer Hall.  I sat down with him the other night to talk about his academic career and he gave me some great advice! Here’s what he had to say…

What exactly are you studying?

I’m in the School of Theology and Ministry and my program is for an MA in pastoral ministry. 

And what year are you?
2nd year, so this is my 2nd and final year.  So you’re in and out, the first year you’re coming in and the second year they’re kicking you out.

And that’s a good thing, right?
Oh it’s great.  I mean it’s perfect for grad school.  By that time, you’ve spent enough time in school that you’re ready to actually put it into practice.

What are the general admission requirements for the school of Theology and Ministry?
GRE, transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, which is a 1,000 word or less essay based on what your experience within theology and ministry has been and what your hopes are for using it in the future.

But I wouldn’t worry about the GRE, people stress about it, but general grad schools look at the whole package, just like undergrad does.  Past experiences, GPA, letters of recommendation, and volunteer experience are big.  It all adds up.  People make a big deal out of the tests and stuff, but it doesn’t matter too much. At least in my experience.

What’s your favorite part of the program?
My favorite part is the people, by far, that was the biggest reason for going to the school.  Both the teachers and the students [are my favorite part].  The teachers make a huge deal, especially if you want to go on in the future to do your Ph.D.  Who you study under means a lot for who or where your going to study under after.  The teachers have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can definitely open doors for you.   But you also learn from the students because you spend so much time with everybody.   The nice thing about the STM (School of Theology and Ministry) is that everybody comes in with such different backgrounds.  We have Jesuits and nuns but we also have older women who are coming in for their second career, stay at home moms that decide they want to do something, and kids like me that are just starting out.

Community is definitely stressed at the STM.   We get together once a week every Thursday from 12-3, there’s no classes offered, so the whole community can get together for mass and then we go and have lunch together. It’s a very strong community.

Did you major in theology as an undergrad here at BC?
Yes, but I was also a marketing major.  I came in with the intention of doing marketing, that was my primary degree.  But I picked up theology, and I had an idea that I would do theology.  I really enjoyed the first couple of classes within theology and looking at all the electives they offered.

So when did you decide you wanted to go to graduate school for theology?
Senior year.  I was looking at marketing as what I was gonna do and senior year I made the switch to pursue theology instead.

Did anything specific spark that switch?
There was a lot of stuff, a push and a pull sort of.  I loved my marketing classes and the ideas behind it but I didn’t enjoy how cut throat and political some of the businesses we were looking at were.  But it was mostly a pull from being an RA and realizing how much I enjoyed helping other people and how much it energized me.

Do you think that staying at BC made the transition to graduate school easier?
Yes and no.  I was fortunate in staying at BC because the STM is another campus.  It’s a brand new environment, a new library, all new teachers.  So it was like a brand new experience.
But at the same time I didn’t have a chance to explore a new city, to look at how another school operates…but it’s like doing college in the same place you did high school in.  It does make the transition nicer, it’s easy and smooth.  You don’t have to move all your stuff or get used to a new campus.

Do you have any advice for seniors preparing for graduate school? Or deciding if they want to go?
I would talk to professors and other friends that have graduated.  I feel like not enough people prepare for it, it can be the last and only option.   I would only do it because you want to do it, not because you have to. You’re not gonna make it through grad school, or you can be but you’re gonna be miserable if you’re doing it just because there’s no other option.   I would go home and do something else, have some experience outside of school and decide if it’s definitely the field you want to go into because it’s expensive and timely.

I think too many people rush into the decision.  Campus is so loud and noisy because your friends are all getting jobs and working at Goldman Sachs, and it all just like builds on itself.   They’re stressed out which makes you stressed out, which makes them more stressed out.   It’s an overly competitive school and everyone says they know what they’re doing, and they inevitably don’t.  But it just fuels the anxiety on campus. But I would get off campus, go far a walk, find a quite space and listen to what you want to do. 

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