Meet Jodi Tharan: SKSM Admissions Coordinator

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This year, the Admissions Coordinator (AC) role at Starr King evolved from a student work-study position to a staff position. The Student Services Department deemed it important to keep someone intimately familiar with the Starr King student experience in place; Jodi Tharan, M.Ed., M.Div. (SKSM Class of 2011), served as the work-study AC for most of her MDiv program.

In this interview, she shares the role of the Admissions Coordinator in working with applicants, the Admission and Scholarship Committee, and the Recruitment, Marketing and Communications Director.

How does the Admissions Coordinator work with degree-program applicants?

By accompanying them from application through acceptance, right up to the new student orientation, that I help organize.

Prospective students often share with me, in intimate detail, the ways starting the seminary journey impacts their lives. Many have also shared that their admissions process with SKSM is different from others because our approach is not just about filing paper work but that they get a “high touch” from start to finish. This settles anxiety and helps them focus on big picture issues.

You often tell applicants that the application process itself is the applicant’s first lesson in learning to apply religious leadership skills. What does this mean?

As a recent graduate of the school, I also see my admissions work as answering a call to help others discern how to further justice and beauty through helping develop leadership formation and skill development right from the beginning. We value personal initiative and encourage applicants to see the application process as a learning opportunity, which is why I accompany and guide them in my coordinator role, as opposed to do it for them.

How does the AC work with recruitment staff?

I refer applicants to the Recruitment, Marketing, and Communications Director who arranges class visits, meetings with faculty, staff, current students, alumni and friends of the school, as well as gives tours of Starr King and some of the neighborhood here on Holy Hill, a term of affection for the neighborhood SKSM and the Graduate Theological Union are located in Berkeley, CA.

Starr King’s Newest Students for Spring 2012:
Adam Dyer, Karuna Foudriat, and Olivia Wallace

Starr King’s Newest Students for Spring 2012:
Adam Dyer, Karuna Foudriat, and Olivia Wallace

How does the AC work with the Admissions and Scholarships Committee?

The Admission and Scholarship Committee (ASC) is a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees; it is comprised of one Trustee, two faculty members, and two students elected by the student body.  The ASC conducts applicant interviews and makes admissions decisions in between the three application deadlines each year: December 1, March 1, and May 1. Students serving on the ASC embody SKSM’s commitment to student leadership. I served in this role, too, when I was a student. We see admissions work as holy work that comes from yearning for justice and right relationships.

What advice would you give to someone discerning Starr King?

We want you to know that your discernment process is honored and encouraged and your discernment can continue, even if you begin a conversation with us, so don’t let that stop you. You can start by emailing Crystal Weston at Our remaining application deadlines for Fall 2012 admission are March 1 and May 1.
Have more questions? See the Admissions FAQ at:

Ready to apply? Simply request an application by emailing our Admissions Coordinator at

Just in! See the results of our new student survey. Why did students choose Starr King? How long did they discern attending seminary? …and more.
Posted online here:
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