Kyle Ashley

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2022

From Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Kyle Ashley is continuing on with the Department after receiving his B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Alabama in the Fall of 2019. Kyle’s interests include imperialism, governmentality, and the intersection between media and power (with a particular focus on American discourses concerning Iran).

In Spring 2020 Kyle served as a Teaching Assistant for the Department of American Studies.

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Justin Barrett

Jacob Barrett

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2022

Beginning the M.A. in the Fall of 2020 and from Colorado Springs, Jacob Barrett graduates in May 2020 from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Philosophy & Religion and Biology. He was the 2019 recipient of the Nebraska Wesleyan Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant to investigate and implement a redesign of the World Religions course at NWU. Data from his project is being featured in a forthcoming volume in the NAASR “Working Papers” series, in an edited volume to be entitled, On the Subject of Religion. He is interested in studying how definitions of religion impact religious freedom cases, how mindfulness/spirituality movements are reshaping discussions around religion, and the plasticity of religion.

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Caity Bell

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2020

Caity Bell, from Fort Payne, AL, graduated from the University of Alabama in 2018 with a B.A. in anthropology and religious studies. In addition to her M.A. in religion in culture, she plans to obtain a museum certificate from the university in order to better aid her research, which examines the various ways museums both construct and influence representations, particularly  those of minority groups in the United States.

Caity will be working in northeast Alabama as an archivist after completing her M.A.

Erica Bennett

Erica Bennett

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2022

Beginning the M.A. program in the Fall of 2020, Erica Bennett is from Louisiana but has spent the last four year at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. She will be graduating with a B.A. Honors in May of 2020 with a dual major of Religious Studies/ Sociology and Anthropology, and minors in both Theater and Mathematics. Her Honors  thesis is titled: “Normalizing New Religious Movements: A Deeper Look into the Effects of Social Opinions of New Religious Movements in the Southeastern United States,” which was accepted for presentation at the Macksey National Undergraduate Research Symposium. Erica hopes to continue her research into New Religious Movements and the lives of their followers, possibly leading towards a Ph.D.

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Jack Bernardi

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2021

Jack Bernardi is back at his alma mater to pursue the REL MA after earning a BS in Pure Mathematics in 2017. His current research interests are primarily focused on applying strands of literary theory and phenomenology to emerging areas of American pop culture. In his free time, he’s either writing, playing tabletop games, or trying (unsuccessfully) to keep up with current music releases.

In 2019-20 Jack held the prestigious Graduate Council Fellowship and served as a half-time in the Fall of 2019 as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for American Studies. For 2020-21 he will hold the position of Graduate Research Assistant to the American Examples initiative in the Department.

Joseph DeFrank

Joseph DeFrank

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2022

Coming to REL’s M.A. in the Fall of 2020, Joseph DeFrank from Canton, GA, graduates in the Spring of 2020 with a B.S. in History and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Young Harris College. An Irish-American scholar for an academic year at Queen’s University of Belfast, some of his main interests include the study of religion in the United States, new religious movements, and what the future of “religion” might be.

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Phoebe Duke-Mosier

Phoebe Duke-Mosier

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2022

Phoebe Duke-Mosier graduated from Hamilton College in May 2019 with a degree in Religious Studies. Her senior thesis, “Drinking the Kool-Aid: Discourses of Death at Jonestown,” was selected for publication in the Fall 2020 issue of The Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa. After graduation, she joined the court procedures team at Goodwin Procter LLP, a Global 50 law firm. She has broad research interests, including religion’s relationship with popular culture and consumerism, discourses and practices surrounding death, and the intersection between the religious and the paranormal.

Phoebe was selected as UA’s sole recipient of the very prestigious David Francko Graduate Fellowship for 2020 — a fully-funded award for the duration of her M.A. degree at UA.

Savannah Finver

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2020

Savannah graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas College in May of 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy/Religious Studies. After a short break from academia, she is excited to pursue her Masters degree at the University of Alabama. Her current interests are in the intersection of religion and politics in America, with a special interest in fringe groups. You’ll most likely find her curled up with a book in the corner of the library. Her hobbies include research, writing, reading, teaching, and talking philosophy with friends around a bonfire.

In 2018-19 Savannah held UA’s prestigious Graduate Council Fellowship.

After completing her M.A. degree, she will begin a Ph.D. at Ohio State University.

Morgan Sadie Frick

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2021

Morgan Sadie Frick, from Dallas, TX, graduated from the University of Alabama in May 2019 with a B.A. in Religious Studies. She is interested in applying social theory to everyday life in order to better understand the world around her and the people who inhabit it. Morgan maintains an interest in the way individuals use language to achieve particular purposes and hopes to incorporate this in her M.A. research. She spends majority of her free time fawning over her Chihuahua, Dobby, and reading Stephen King novels.

In 2019-20 Morgan held the prestigious National Alumni Association Graduate Fellowship and served as a half-time in the Fall of 2019 as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for American Studies.

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Emma Gibson

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2019

Emma Gibson is from Charleston, SC, and graduated from Furman University in 2017 with a B.A. in Philosophy. Her interest in religious studies led her to the M.A. program at Alabama where she was able to combine her philosophical background to the critical study of religion. She defended her thesis, “Reorienting Phenomenological Method for the Critical Study of Religion,” and completed her M.A. in Spring of 2019. While working on her thesis, Emma was drawn to the idea of applying phenomenology and critical theory to fields outside of the humanities. She is now a student at Clemson University where she is pursuing a Master’s in Architecture.

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Sarah Griswold

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2018

Sarah completed her M.A. in Spring 2018, after holding the prestigious Graduate Council Fellowship for 2018-19. Her thesis, entitled “Their Throats Were Constricted: Nationalism, History, and Memorials in Nana Rao Park,” studied the methods and effects of competing histories and memorials in Kanpur, India. Prior to her M.A., Sarah completed a B.S. with a double major in Mathematics with a concentration in Statistics and Religious Studies from The University of Alabama. She now works as Manager of Guest Experience at the Atlanta History Center in Atlanta, GA.

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Sonya Harwood

Sonya Harwood-Johnson

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2022

Starting the M.A. this coming Fall, Sonya Harwood-Johnson is originally from Grimes, Iowa, and receives her B.S. in Anthropology and Religious Studies, with a minor in Environmental Studies, from Iowa State University in May of 2020. Her research has focused on American Esoteric traditions, such as Wicca and the Feminist Reclaiming movement. Her paper, titled “Esoteric Negotiation: An Insider-Outsider Perspective” was accepted to the UMAAR conference in April 2020. Sonya is passionate about ethnographic research and hopes also to earn a Museum Studies certificate.

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Photo of Allison Isidore

Allison Isidore

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2021

Allison Isidore, from Montclair, NJ, graduated from McDaniel College in May 2019 and received a B.A. in Religious Studies with a minor in History. Her focus is on the relationship and impacts religious minorities had on the Civil Rights Movement. In her spare time, she plays golf, bike rides, sits in a hammock reading books and spends time on the beach.

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Sierra Lawson

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2019

Sierra is from Wyoming and completed her B.A. in anthropology, religious studies, and Spanish at The University of Alabama and, in 2019, successfully completed the M.A. in Religious Studies, also at UA. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is based in the Religion and Culture track with a focus on social theory. In her studies, Sierra analyzes the discourses that narrate apparitions of the Virgin Mary with specific interests in the history of the Iberian peninsula and colonial Latin America. She also provides service to professional organizations in her field in the form of website management and digital curation.

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Matt McCullough

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2020

Matthew is from Huntsville, AL and received his B.A. in Religious Studies and Political Science from the University of Alabama in 2017. He is interested in combining these two disciplines and studying the effects of religion in contemporary American politics. Particularly focused on competing perceptions about Christianity and the ideal relationship between church and state, he hopes to find new ways to think about how these issues impact not only elections and policy making but also the religion itself and the way individuals identify with it.

After graduation Matt plans to get involved in education, possibly working in secondary ed.

Keeley McMurray

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2020

From Huntsville, AL, Keeley McMurray graduated from the University of Alabama in 2018 with a BA in Religious Studies and English and a minor in Theater.  She is primarily interested in how “religion” and its orbiting discourses can be studied as rhetoric, deployed as a tool used to organize and reproduce a specific social world.  Specifically, she is curious as to how this rhetoric functions in American politics and law, as a necessary feature that works to negotiate similarity and difference by creating governable individuals.  When she’s not lost in quiet contemplation, Keeley enjoys animals, live music, and a lot of laughing.  She hopes to be a lifelong learner, teacher and friend to all.

In 2018-19 Keeley held the prestigious National Alumni Association Graduate Fellowship and, in 2019-20, Keeley was the inaugural holder of the American Examples Graduate Research Assistantship, funding by the Luce Foundation.

After successfully defending her thesis and completing her M.A. degree, Keeley will pursue her Ph.D. at Florida State University.

Peyton Mitzel

Peyton Mitzel

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2022

Peyton Mitzel graduates from Temple University in 2020 with a B.A. in English and Religion. Peyton finds the relationship between literary theory and the study of religion fascinating, while also having an interest in their connection to philosophy.

Jeremee Nute

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2021

Jeremee Nute is originally from Bevier, in the east corner of Missouri. He graduated from Missouri Western State University in May 2019 with a B.S in Mathematics Education and Philosophy with a concentration in Religious Studies. His research interests include Chinese religiosity, secularism, comparative studies, and philosophy of religion. He plans on obtaining his Ph.D someday in religious studies. In his spare time, he goes birding with his partner, plays with his two dogs and kitten, and enjoys watching terribly produced horror movies.

Marco Morillo

Marco Pflanzen

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2022

Starting the M.A. in Fall 2020, Marco Pflanzen is from Ashburn, VA, and graduates from Shenandoah University in 2020 with a B.M. in Violin Performance and a Minor in Religious Studies. Their current research primarily focuses on considering the relationship between sex and secularism and its impact on economic, social, and political structures in the United States. They also enjoy researching within the disciplines of feminist and queer theory, critical race theory, crip theory, and musicology.

Marco was awarded an A&S Dean’s Merit award for both years of their M.A. at UA.

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Ana Self Schuber

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Ana Self Schuber is currently the Program Manager for the New College LifeTrack Program on the UA campus, which assists adult students in the completion of their bachelor’s degree.  Ana has been an instructor for various programs at UA since 1991 and begins the MA in Religious Studies part-time in the Fall of 2018.  She has taught courses in the Folk Arts and Haunted Alabama, and belongs to the Alabama Folklife Association, the West Alabama Quilters Guild and the Alabama Gravestone Society. She received a B.S.E in Theatre/Speech and English from Central Missouri State along with a M.A. in English.  Additionally, she completed a M.A. in Women’s Studies from The University of Alabama.

Judah Siekkinen

Judah Siekkinen

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2022

Judah graduated from Youngstown State University with a B.A. in Religious Studies & Geography. He is interested in nationalism, feminism, mysticism, and pop culture. He hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Religious Studies.

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Emma Welch

Emma Welch

M.A. (Religious Studies)

Graduation Year: 2022

Starting the M.A. in Fall 2020, Emma Welch, originally from Toney, AL, will graduate in May of 2020 with a B.A. in Religion from Samford University. Her interests include religion’s relationship to violence as well as how the theologies of marginalized groups are shaped by their situation.  She was a runner-up for Theta Alpha Kappa’s 2020 Clark Award (for best undergraduate essay) and, after the completion of an M.A., she hopes to pursue a Ph.D in the field of religion.

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