Behold, the Handmaiden of the Lord

Women at SVOTS Contemplate Future Paths


St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) has welcomed women students since the early 1960’s, and its female alumni have gone on to be chaplains, professors, teachers, counselors, missionaries, choir directors, writers, scholars, and lay ministers in the Orthodox Church. No student body in the past, however, has been joined by more than a few women at a time - until this year, when eight women enrolled, bringing the total number of women currently attending SVOTS to 14.

The fourteen women currently studying at St Vladimir’s Seminary come from a wide range of cultural, professional, and educational backgrounds. All, however, are united by one conviction - living, learning, and praying at St Vladimir’s Seminary will form and strengthen their hearts, minds, and souls to serve the Church to the best of their ability.

This student spotlight series on the women at St Vladimir’s Seminary will be presented in three parts, highlighting their varying paths to seminary, their experiences as students, and their ideas and hopes for future service in the Church.

Read Part One

Read Part Two

Part Three: Contemplating Future Paths

In this third installment, women studying at St Vladimir’s Seminary share hopes and ideas about next steps following the completion of their degree programs. The question discussed here is:

What are your future plans after graduating from SVOTS?

Sophia Mitchel Mattias


My plan is to enter into a Certified Educator Candidate training program to have a part in training and educating future chaplains. I also hope to continue my education in a Marriage and Family Doctoral program. With that, I hope to serve the Church in providing counseling services, education, and research to support couples, marriages and families.

Naomi DeHaan


I hope to continue my studies, whether as a ThM student or up to doctoral level is yet to be determined. I hope to explore more Biblical and near-East poetry as part of my continuing interest in beautiful language.

Mother Veronica Abaskharoun


 To be honest, I do not have a particular or specific project because I do not usually set a long-term plan for my life, but I try to give the Lord the chance to reveal His plan for me step by step. Then I can cooperate with Him in that plan. His plans for me were always much higher and greater than my own plans and ambitions.

Mother Cassiana Colchester


Wherever the Lord leads, I will follow.

Julia Yingnan Ji


I aspire to serve adults in their learning and development–lifelong catechesis. I would also like to serve in leadership development work: caring for clergy, supporting religious leaders in their being, and becoming, including caring for their wellbeing and supporting their continued development. Well cared for, supported leaders who continue self-development maximize their serving to our churches. Further, I aspire to contribute to attempts and discourse on spiritual formation in public spheres. I hope, rooted in my spiritual home as an Orthodox Christian, to collaborate with people with common values to forge a path of transformation as an interactive, loving relationship with Jesus Christ, and with one another, that is, an approach of spiritual friendship–accessible to all who live life as pilgrimage.

Andjelka Stankovic

Andjelka Stankovic

I want to continue my education, and to work in the field of theology, if I get a chance. That way I would fulfill my goal, and that is to give my contribution to the Church and people.

Kripaya Varghese


After graduating from SVOTS, I have a desire to bring my two masters degrees together (Social Work and Theology) and help those in need within the church, as well as outside. I also look forward to speaking with young women in the church about their roles and empowering them to actively seek Christ in their lives. I hope that there will be many more Malankara Orthodox females after me who pursue a degree in theology here at SVOTS. All in all, wherever God leads me, there I will follow.

Mother Devorah Salamon


I'm kind of reluctant to speak about my future plans just because I really just try to put it all in the hands of God. The way I got here, the way I got to DC, and the way that I got to my university - all have been these spontaneous callings that I answered; there was a lot of grace that helped me get to the point when I felt like okay, God is putting a particular thing on my heart. So, I don't want to analyze and plan out too much. I just know that if I feel like something is being put on my heart, I will look into it and see if God opens the doors.

Laura Ionescu


I’m very interested in iconography, and music as well. I’ve been thinking about trying to go to Romania during the summer to do an internship or a workshop on iconography. And hopefully, if God wills, I can become an iconographer.
In terms of music, I’ve also thought about becoming a cantor. My mom was really the seed of music for me. She came from Romania, where she took part in musical education through high school. When she came to America, she taught piano lessons; she also taught me how to harmonize in church. So, she was the seed of both my religious and musical education, and everything sprung from there.
I don’t know for sure what will come next - we’ll see how things go. Wherever God wants me, that’s where I’ll hopefully be.

Nino Tskitishvili


I want to apply for the Master in Theology (Th.M.) to develop my skills in academic thesis-writing and research. After that, I will probably pursue a PhD.

I want to stay in America for up to ten years, to gain the knowledge and education I am seeking. Afterwards, I will go back to Georgia to be an educator. Unfortunately, educated people are mostly leaving Georgia right now, because the situation there is really bad. What I want to do is go back after I finish my education and gain some working experience, and be useful there. I believe some good changes can be made there in the future.

Amber Prather


We have too many ideas for the future, and none of them are set in stone. Part of the difficulty is that he and I are from different dioceses in the OCA - I'm from the Diocese of the West, he's from the Diocese of the Midwest, so there are a lot of conversations that still have to happen. If Andrew is ordained, one idea we love is for him to serve as a deacon in an active parish for a couple of years and then as a priest of a mission parish somewhere. We would love, if possible, to even spend some time serving in Norway, where I had originally planned to become a missionary.