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?
1997-2001; Psychology and Religious Studies (double major)
2. When you first came here from high school, what did you think you wanted to do for a career?
I wanted to do something that didn’t involve backbreaking labor in the hot, hot sun.
3. Any memories from your REL classes in Manly Hall that stand out and, more importantly perhaps, that you can share without incriminating anyone?
The best classes I had were with Dr. Catherine Roach, and those didn’t happen in Manly Hall. What I remember the most about my classes in Manly was how students would simply tell professors they were wrong, especially in the Old Testament and New Testament classes. Dr. Green, of course, took this in stride. Dr. Weinberger was too old to put up with any of that and would outline each and every way the student was wrong (and not in a nice way).
4. So what have you ended up doing and what path led you there? Tell us a little about your career now.
I am an associate professor of Sociology at Northern Illinois University. After graduating from UA, I attended Vanderbilt and received an MA in Religion. I then moved on to the University of Wisconsin—Madison and received an MA and PhD in Sociology. I was hired by NIU in 2011, and I have been here ever since. I do research in the social psychology of religion. A particular area of research I focus on is the religious practice of prayer.
5. Is it fair to think that some of your REL undergrad classes or skills continue to useful to you? If so, do you have any examples?
This is a fair assumption. Dr. Doty’s psychology of religion class and Dr. Roach’s problem of evil class have stuck with me. As I said above, I do research in the social psychology of religion. I also have written journal articles on theodicy, and I can trace this interest back to Dr. Roach’s course.
6. If you now gave some advice to your earlier self, the one in classes in Manly Hall, what would that be?
Everything’s going to be all right.
Ed. Note: Dr. William Doty and Dr. Leon Weinberger, longtime members of REL, retired in the late 1990s or very early 2000s and have since passed away; former Chair of REL, Dr. Patrick Green, though retired, still teaches occasionally for Honors or Blount, and Dr. Catherine Roach is a senior member of the faculty in New College here at UA.