What You Missed at This Week’s Grad’s Tale

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Wednesday saw the semester’s first installment of “There and Back Again: A Grad’s Tale,” an event that brings back alumni who graduated from UA with a degree in Religious Studies to talk about life-after-diploma. This time, Prof. Mike Altman talked to Hannah Hicks, now a second-year law student here at UA. A double major in Religious Studies and Philosophy who graduated in 2013, Hannah talked about the ways in which her degrees in the liberal arts helped prepare her for her post-graduate studies. Specifically, she related the importance of the critical thinking skills she gained from her majors. Hannah’s interested in “public interest law”—an area of legal studies focused on advocating for or meeting the needs of specific communities (often, this happens through working with nonprofit organizations or specialized groups). With this in mind, she talked about how her work in the Religious Studies Department has helped her to think analytically—and not just in terms of statistical description—about what she deems to be “structural violences” like systemic racism and poverty.

So, given the chance, what kind of advice would Hannah go back and give to the freshman version of herself just starting out in college? She’d tell that younger Hannah not to think so much about the faraway future or obsess about what kind of academic/professional goals she thought she might want to achieve. Her law school compatriots come from all sorts of undergraduate programs…from business to marketing to dance! More important than the degree program itself are the skills that program helps a student cultivate—skills like academic writing, critical thinking, and close reading. These, Hannah told the current students who packed out the Anderson Room in the Ferguson Center, are the things to focus on during one’s college experience. She encouraged them to use their time as undergrads to explore ideas they find interesting…because there are endless possibilities for how they might later put them to use.

…Did we mention there were cookies and coffee? And a plate shaped like the state of Alabama gifted to Hannah? And a fun statistical detour, courtesy of Prof. Altman, about the woeful state of the pharmaceutical profession? Surprises abound at these events. Make sure you catch the next one!

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