Student Stories

Asking Questions Critically, Courageously, with Curiosity, and in Community: Meet MTS Student Colton Bernasol

Hometown: Plainfield, Illinois

I grew up and have lived most of my life in the southwest and west suburbs of Chicago, though my father immigrated from the Philippines, and my mother is Mexican American. I attended Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, for my undergraduate studies, and I majored in philosophy and theological and biblical studies. I enjoy music, both playing and listening to it. And I also enjoy skateboarding, a childhood hobby of mine I hope to keep up with so long as my body permits.

Why did you decide to attend seminary and Garrett-Evangelical in particular?

I was compelled to seminary by the theological questions that the world and my own experience have raised. Who is God for us today? What does God have to do with Jesus Christ? And what does this mean for the communities that we live in? There are countless more questions, but my point is that such questions are important, and the answers have real implications for how we understand ourselves and live in the world. Seminary opens up the opportunity to ask these questions critically, courageously, with curiosity, and in community. I decided to attend Garrett-Evangelical in particular because of the faculty I had the opportunity to meet when I first visited the school. Not only were they welcoming, but they also encouraged me to explore the questions I felt were important. Some of those questions revolve around the relationship between colonialism, race, and Christianity. The faculty I had the opportunity to meet at Garrett-Evangelical were not only asking similar questions but also encouraged me that Garrett-Evangelical would be a place where those questions would be engaged and taken seriously.

What challenges and opportunities have you found with the fall semester being online?

Because all of my classes have been online, I haven’t needed to commute to school. This has given me more time to study and do research. With that time, I’ve been able to really immerse myself in the course readings. One of the challenges has been getting to connect with other students. It has been difficult getting to know my colleagues since classes are online; students are living all over the states and world, and there are fewer opportunities for informal gatherings and hangouts.

How has your scholarship enabled you to pursue your theological education?

My research scholarship has provided me with the opportunity to focus more on school and less on finances. While COVID-19 has certainly put financial stress on me and my family, my scholarship has allowed me to continue with my education amidst these current economic hardships.

Where do you see Christ leading you after seminary?

After my MTS program, I intend to apply to PhD programs in theology and ethics to further study the relationship between Christianity, race, and colonialism, so I can discern what it might mean to be faithful to God today. I believe that Christ is leading me to teach in either ministerial or academic contexts, which would require additional education.