Samuel Ernest

Graduate Student in Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School, Berkeley Divinity School, and The Institute of Sacred Music

New Haven, Connecticut

Class of 2015, English Literature major


As a graduate student studying religion and literature at the Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, Ernest spends most of his time with his nose in books, writing, and taking courses in a variety of topics from the Old Testament to Anglican history to James Baldwin to solitude in literature. He says he is slowly weaving these seemingly disconnected topics together in order to understand his own particular interest: Christianity and sexuality in literature. While Ernest spends a lot of time in solitude when at school, he hopes to write works that are helpful both to the church and to those who have been harmed by their churches.

How does your time at SPU connect to what you’re doing today?

The SPU English Department taught me how to write essays that are academically sound while still being engaging and, for the right topic, personal. This skill has allowed me to thrive in a variety of classroom settings at Yale. Also, the communal life in the residence halls and the friendships I made during my time at SPU gave me the space to learn how to love myself. Being a gay Christian can be difficult, but the students and faculty with whom I developed relationships were nothing but loving and nurturing throughout some of the most difficult times of college and my life in general. It is my desire that the church and its institutions (including Christian colleges) could one day offer that Christ-like love and community to all LGBTQ folk that drives my studies.

Which SPU faculty or staff member made a difference in your education?

When I was working on my honors project, Liz Gruchala-Gilbert, librarian for the College of Arts and Sciences and my assigned librarian, was not only eager to find and procure helpful texts, but she would also take time to check up on me and talk to me about any number of things. She changed how I think of librarians and embodies the gift I find to be held in common by all SPU staff and faculty members I could write about here: a deep pastoral care for the lives of her students.

What advice would you give to current SPU students?

Continue to develop relationships with your SPU faculty mentors after you graduate. Oh, and don’t worry (Matthew 6:25–34).