We’ve started a new series, featuring grads that have ended up doing a pretty wide variety of things after leaving their REL classes (graduating either recently or a little while ago). So we posed a few questions to each and let’s see what we learn.
1. When were you here & what did you graduate with?
I graduated in Spring 2009 (and got married the day after!), with a major in Religious Studies and a minor in Computer Science: Technology and Applications.
2. When you first came here from high school, what did you think you wanted to do for a career?
It was my desire to serve in full-time vocational ministry, as a pastor, with the Assemblies of God. The Religious Studies program provided exactly what I was looking for -– training in how to understand people and religious practice (particularly, outside of my own as a Christian) and more importantly, how to think critically and analytically about religion and culture.
3. Any memories from your REL classes in Manly Hall that stand out and, more importantly perhaps, that you can share without incriminating anyone?
Let’s see. From the tomato as a fruit versus tomato as a vegetable discussion to camping out in the student study lounge (with the amazing Room and Board furniture) to hearing a diverse collection of voices (from Professor Ramey to Professor Simmons), to a class on “apocalyptic themes in film,” I had a great time being immersed in this field of study. Sadly, we never got our ‘lab coats’ that we discussed needing.
4. So what have you ended up doing and what path led you there? Tell us a little about your career now.
I work full-time at American University in Washington, DC as a chaplain/campus minister, directing Chi Alpha Campus Ministries (Assemblies of God) which is housed in the Kay Spiritual Life Center. I was actually involved in Chi Alpha Campus Ministries at the University of Alabama since my first weekend as a freshmen! I’ve always felt a call to pastoral work, and I love the strategic nature and ‘posture of learning’ that emerging adults tend to exhibit during their undergraduate years. Honestly, the Religious Studies department was a big part of my preparation in taking this role, in that I’m now also involved with Interfaith work as well as interfacing with faith groups (and faith leaders!) from 20+ different faiths (all in one building!).
5. Is it fair to think that some of your REL undergrad classes or skills continue to be useful to you?
Yes, and yes! I mentioned that above but I also think that Hayden White’s The Content of the Form, has helped me as I navigate cultural issues vis-à-vis faith as well as lead discussion on the ways that politics and the Christian faith collide (at many times, to the detriment of both a Gospel witness and a true democracy for people of all beliefs and backgrounds, in the US).
6. If you now gave some advice to your earlier self, the one in classes in Manly Hall, what would that be?
Being a leader (and student of religion + culture), listening is important. Also, it’s possible to have an evangelical framework for the Christian faith without being dismissive or disrespectful of other faith groups and beliefs. I knew this, at the time, but I don’t know if had many models for it to be honest.