Lacey Sanchez on How Math Brought Her to Seminary - Princeton Theological Seminary

For as long as she can remember, Lacey Sanchez, MDiv ‘23, has wanted to be a teacher, and becoming a professor is a dream that has followed her to this day.

“I was always kind of storing lectures that I heard from my teachers in my back pocket, thinking about how I could turn them into my lessons one day and about how I would present the material that I had just been taught,” she says.

While her journey toward her dream started at an early age, her undergraduate experience at Bridgewater College, a liberal arts college in Bridgewater, Virginia, was pivotal. Majoring in both math and philosophy, her math studies gave rise to doubt concerning whether the system of math was discovered by humans. Instead, she started to believe that it was a divinely offered system.

“When people want to know how I came to God, I always have to say math really did that,” she explains. “It wasn’t philosophy. It wasn’t theology, not even theater. It was math. When you see, point nine repeating is equal to one, that’s the Trinity right there in my mind. Things can be equal to each other that don’t look the same, at least intuitively.”

Having that logical structure undergird her theology and faith was a catalyst for joining the seminary. Under the advice of previous philosophy professors and a one-year stint at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory that ended at the onset of COVID, Lacey applied to Princeton Seminary. “I wanted to try communal living. I wanted to try learning more about my own faith, my own theology, and how that intersects with my day-to-day living. It was a very fragile theology I had and that’s why I wanted to strengthen it.”

A few aspects made Princeton Theological Seminary particularly appealing — rave reviews from an undergraduate professor who attended Princeton Seminary, the field education placements, and an opportunity to take courses at Princeton University. At graduation, she will have completed three field education placements, exceeding the requirements. Of the three, her placement at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital has been the highlight of the Seminary experience. It revealed how she could apply skills learned at Seminary.

She also had the opportunity to engage with patients who represent a population of society that is often forgotten, which was humbling. “I still think about a lot of them. I’d like to think I helped them but in reality, I think they helped me more.”

Another seminary highlight has been gaining a sense of community — with the exception of her first year at Princeton Seminary, which was online due to COVID. This motivated her to be more involved when everyone returned to campus.

In her role as the current student government treasurer, her major responsibility is creating budgets for each student group on campus. While this task is no easy feat, it’s one she has accomplished with the help of feedback from all stakeholders. The process has helped her build connections with multiple student organizations, which has been socially beneficial.

“It has helped me become so much more part of the community,” she says. “I was so detached from the Seminary due to COVID but being in SGA really helped me solidify my student body and feel like I belong here.”

Now as she prepares to complete her third field placement and graduate from Princeton Seminary, she is focused on her future. Having a certain level of preparedness is key, which is why her post-seminary plans include variations. Immediate plans include a residency at Yale New Haven Hospital, which will help solidify a chaplaincy accreditation. During the year-long program, plans are to apply for Slavic church history-based PhD programs. Next summer, she also has an opportunity to study in Kazakhstan through American Councils Study Abroad.

Her Seminary experience has prepared her for the future in more ways than one.

As a Latina trans woman, Princeton Seminary has served as an excellent place for her to further solidify her identity, she says. Her participation in En Conjunto, a Latina student group, has also been pivotal. “It’s been a beautiful place to get to know myself and learn about myself all over again.”