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 enrolled at UA and what major(s) and minor(s) did you graduate with?
I was a Religious Studies and History double major and Italian minor and graduated in 2012.
2. When you first came here from high school, what did you think you wanted to do for a career?
I wanted to be a high school history teacher. I was actually offered that job shortly before graduating but had already decided to continue on to grad school in Religious Studies.
3. Any memories from your REL classes in Manly Hall that stand out and, more importantly perhaps, that you can share without incriminating anyone?
I have countless memories of the few wonderful years I spent in Manly Hall. Though, I do recall a handful of us—no I won’t name names—starting a mustache movement in Prof. Trost’s English Bible as Literature class that was misinterpreted as poking fun at Prof. Ramey, so then we (maybe me and one or two others) just kind’a ran with it. Rumor has it, students are continuing the tradition of teasing Prof. Ramey to this day… (Photo courtesy of Anna Davis.)
4. So what have you ended up doing and what path led you there? Tell us a little about your career now.
I’m currently working on my PhD in American Religious Cultures in the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University. While this was not my plan going into college, I happened to find my way into Prof. Merinda Simmons’ REL 105: Honors Intro to Religious Studies class in my freshman year. I was hooked on day one with her question “What is ‘religion?’” The rest, as they say, is history.
5. Is it fair to think that some of your REL undergrad classes or skills continue to be useful to you? If so, do you have any examples?
Oh, absolutely, but not necessarily in the way one might expect. Of course, the critical thinking, analytical, reading, and writing skills are absolutely useful considering the work I’m doing in my PhD program. But the skills I learned in REL have proved to extend far beyond the classroom. My time in REL has certainly shaped my own work in Religious Studies, but the skills I learned in the classroom and as an office worker have also taught me how to successfully navigate new schools, academic departments, and jobs as well. I’m still amazed by how much I rely on the skills I learned in Manly Hall.
6. If you now gave some advice to your earlier self, the one in classes in Manly Hall, what would that be?
Just go ahead and major in REL. It’ll be worth it. REL is where it’s at—you’re surrounded by an amazing group of people, so dive in, follow your passion, and keep reading and learning!