Together supporting Latinx students to obtain a theological education
October 2023 – The Hispanic Theological Initiative’s (HTI) mission is cultivating Latinx PhD students for leadership positions in the academy, the church, and the world.
To support this mission, Drew Theological School is a member of the HTI consortium, a collaborative partnership to increase recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of Latinx PhD students in the U.S. by leveraging institutional resources.
With the help of Drew and other partnering institutions, HTI is now serving the largest cohort of Latinx PhD students. Cohorts are available to scholars to correspond with the various stages of earning a PhD. HTI has shepherded many Drew students as they earn their PhDs.
Theological School Dean Edwin David Aponte was recently elected as Chair of the Member Council and Steering Committee at HTI—a full circle moment as Aponte was a scholar in the first HTI cohort. “I would not have completed my PhD without that support,” he said.
The program directly increases the presence of Latinx leaders and faculty scholars in seminaries, schools of theology, and universities.
Assistant Teaching Professor in Latinx Studies and Ministries Francisco J. Peláez-Diaz is an alum of the program. “Everything I received from HTI contributed significantly to my ability to cross the finish line of my PhD program at Princeton Theological Seminary,” he said. “It was not only the substantial financial support, but also all the programming—designed to meet the needs of the participants throughout the various stages of the PhD program. Words cannot sufficiently express my gratitude for everything and everyone at HTI.”
PhD students Michael Anderson, program assistant at the Theological School, and Gonzalo Alers T’18, are currently fellows in HTI’s dissertation cohort. Anderson points to a writing retreat at HTI’s headquarters as impactful, not only in preparation for writing his dissertation, but also in building community surrounding the process. “It gave me space to think about how I write and for whom; a sense of separation from my Drew life that allowed me the chance to think about my process as a writer-scholar,” he said. “This community of scholars was really nice to be a part of, in particular, because I found that a lot of us resonated or had similar thoughts, opinions, or ideas about concerns for justice—both in academia and beyond it.”
“HTI has been a tremendous and invaluable support in my journey,” said Alers. “The spiritual, personal, and academic support is simply unparalleled. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity that the partnership between Drew and HTI has meant to me.”