Princeton Theological Seminary will be gaining a Hamilton alumna, as Jackie Rodriguez begins her pursuit of her Master of Divinity degree in the fall. Rodriguez will have the opportunity to focus on political theology at the rigorous program for three years and, upon graduation, she will be an ordained minister.
“I’ve always had people jokingly call me Pastor Jackie,” she said, “and I’m still laughing now that it will be true.”
A government major and education studies minor, Rodriguez explains that “I honestly never ever considered theological studies until I got to Hamilton.” As the Senior Chapel Fellow, a co-leader of the All-Beliefs Union, and employee with the children’s ministry at Cornerstone Community Church in Utica, N.Y., Rodriguez has an impressive resume of spiritually guided community service.
Rodriguez credits College Chaplain Jeff McArn as an influential on-campus mentor, assisting in both her extracurriculars and academics. In addition to piquing her academic interest in religion, “my ability to sit in (McArn’s) office for countless hours and talk about my relationship with God has helped me discern this call to ministry,” Rodriguez said.
She described the moment she knew concretely that she wanted to become a pastor. Last year, while Rodriguez was studying in Israel, she attended a church service in the center of Jerusalem. She saw that the pastor was a woman and thought to herself “I can do that.”
Chatting with friends the next day, Rodriguez connected a comment to the Bible story of Adam and Eve. Jokingly, one of her friends teased “‘What do you want to be - a pastor?’ and I just blurted ‘yes!,’” she said.
Minor: Education Studies
Hometown: Maitland, Fla.
High School: Winter Park High School
Rodriguez called the process of selecting the right program as “fairly in depth. I wanted to make sure I was going to a school that had space where orthodox and non-orthodox Christian thinkers could come together in a classroom.”
She described her ideal program as one that combines “high caliber academics where the education is touching your whole personhood.”
Rodriguez was also impressed with the number of women who taught theology at Princeton. Harkening back to her experience in Jerusalem, Rodriguez said that representation of women in the field of ministry is of growing importance.
Princeton awarded Rodriguez a prestigious full merit scholarship to attend. On Hamilton’s Class and Charter Day, she was awarded the Manley F. Allbright Fellowship. This fellowship was established in memory of Allbright, class of 1903, to provide funding for graduate study at divinity school.
Rodriguez accepts these honors humbly. She said, “I would rather stay under the radar to keep my intentions pure with what I am doing.” The future pastor explains “going to seminary is the first step in me being a rock for other people.”