Religious Studies Student and Alumnae Profiles

Past and Present Religious Studies Students

Whether you are a current Saint Mary's student or a prospective Belle, we hope that our students' stories will help you find your ideal major or minor.

2010 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000    

 

2010

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Mary Gross
Religious Studies/English Literature double major

"Religious Studies allows me to explore the rich history and the 'real life' applications of my faith. The major is unique because it calls the women of Saint Mary's to realize their own beauty within the Catholic tradition and equips them to share it with the world."

2006

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Skip Bacon
Religious Studies major

"I chose to be a religious studies major because the courses involved with the major will be beneficial for my future career in the church. In the future I hope to work as a pastorial associate with my home archdiocese in Indianapolis. This major will adequately prepare me for my future career and will also open other doors in my field of work."


Michelle Fitzgerald
Religious Studies/Political Science double major

"As a student who attended public schools all of my life prior to attending Saint Mary's, and as a child who has parents that do not stress any religious education, I had never been exposed to religion classes. However, after taking my first religion class (as required by Saint Mary's) I found myself wanting to learn more and more. I took my second religion class (again, required) and when the class ended, I still wanted to learn more. Now, I have found myself indulged in the major, expanding my horizons, studying different aspects of religious thought and concepts that I have never studied before. With this information, I am also able to enhance my learnings in other various topics throughout my education (including my other major). I definitely feel that being a Religious Studies Major at Saint Mary's is contributing to the liberal arts education I have always hoped for."


Angela Johnston
Religious Studies/Philosophy double major

"Since my freshman year in high school, I have had a passion for studying topics concerning religion and philosophy. For that reason, I ended up becoming attached to the subjects of Religious Studies and Philosophy here at Saint Mary's and am now double majoring in those fields. Religious Studies and Philosophy overlap so much with each other and also overlap with so many other areas of study. I am really getting a deeper outlook on life through studying these topics. I am considering studying both theology and law after I finish my time here at Saint Mary's. Regardless of what I do, I am sure that the my studies here at Saint Mary's will always be helpful to me."


Jennifer Robbins
Religious Studies/Humanistic Studies double major

"After 13 years of public schooling and countless Sunday school classes, I have realized that I have not yet learned enough about religion to satisfy my interest in it. By spending my four years here studying Humanistic Studies and Religious Studies, I plan to leave SMC with a solid understanding of the vast number of religions, cultures and ways of life around the world, and with a deeper understanding of what my own religion is. These majors will challenge me to develop reading, analyzing and critical thinking skills which will be important in all aspects of life, and especially for a career in international law."

2005

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Cleary Jankowski
Religious Studies major

"Why am I a religious studies major? This question has been running through my mind ever since I was asked to write this 'blurb.' But I believe it comes down to one simple fact - I love God. God is life and there is nothing more important than relationship with Him. The courses in the major will inevitably challenge my faith and core beliefs, and this testing should yield a stronger, firmer faith than when I began this journey."


Katie Press
Religious Studies major

"Looking back at major events in my life, I realize that I was destined to be a Religious Studies major from the very beginning. My youth group in high school opened a whole new world of faith and faith exploration to me. Through three summers of mission trips to Honduras, I was afforded the opportunity to see Christ in the poor. I was also fortunate enough to attend a Catholic high school where religion classes were taught as part of our core curriculum. But I was left hungry, wanting "more." And what I have learned in my time here at Saint Mary's is that the desire to learn more about Christ and the Church never goes away! And while there may be a few bumps in the along the way, the rewards thus far have only begun to whet my appetite for whatever lies ahead."


Mary Beth Swygart
Religious Studies/Philosophy major

"A good friend of mine told me a joke that has seemed more and more profound since I heard it the first time: What do you call a priest who takes long walks? A roamin' Catholic! At first I thought probably what you are thinking right now. LAME joke. But when I thought about it more, that is what I am. I left home to roam around Saint Mary's for four years and get a better understanding of what it means to say that I am Catholic. Majoring in RLST here at Saint Mary's has taken me all over the place: I went back to Luther's Germany with Doctor Martin, St. Paul's Corinth with Doctor Fotopoulos, Aquinas' Italy with Doctor Incandela... and I still have a while to "roam" before I leave Saint Mary's, thankfully. I want to wander around through the theology with my friends here for a while yet. I feel lucky to be a Religious Studies major and I am so happy being a "roamin' Catholic."

2004

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Amanda Garno
Religious Studies/Spanish double major

"The faith, knowledge, and kindness exuded by others brought me to a higher level of understanding in my own personal life. Those individuals, family, friends, and even strangers, helped shape and give meaning to my life and uncover a path that I had not known existed. Through my in depth studies of religion, I wish to gain the knowledge that is necessary to uncover that path for others."


Katie Harrison
Religious Studies/Philosophy double major

"I have chosen to major in Religious Studies along with Philosophy, because the two disciplines fit my personality, and what I am seeking from an education exactly. I am not interested in knowing all the answers, and I don't think that they are all going to come to me in my sleep some night, but I do like the thrill of the chase. The abilities that these two majors will give me are incparable as far as I am concerned. What better way to spend a hundred thousand dollars than learning to write, think critically, analyze, articulate, question, and reason? The majors are both challenging and refreshing, and at the same time, I am excited to know that what I am learning in them will be a huge benefit as I pursue a career in law. I hope to further my study of ethics and religion, and use them as a tool in the future. My mother is right, we do need more lawyers who think, and I know that what I am learning here at Saint Mary's is the best path to becoming just that."


Linda Janke
Religious Studies/Communication Studies double major

"Somehwere along the line It became my dream to work in youth ministries. I have always been very involved with youth ministry programs and decided that I needed to give back to others the awesome experiences that I have been blessed to have. Plain and simple I think faith is something to get excited about, and the more you learn about it, the more excited you can get about it and the more you can share with others. I'm excited for all I get to learn in this major, and all the places this knowledge will take me. Romans 8:28."


Romona Parks
Religious Studies major

"I could flood this page with all of the great reasons why RLST is a wonderful major, but instead I'll just make this personal and to the point. I didn't choose this major, it chose me. I began as a Nursing major but unfortunately I did not do very well academically. Due to my low GPA I was forced to leave Nursing behind. At the end of my second year I was asked to choose another major. I knew without a doubt that it would be RLST. My RLST classes are where I feel most comfortable on campus. My life experiences are acknowledged, my preconceived notions are erased, and I feel like I am finally doing what is best for my future plans. I may not know exactly what God has planned for me after SMC, but one thing is for sure, 'I pray that when I die, all of Hell will throw a party to celebrate the fact that I am no longer in the fight.'--C.T. Studd Let's just say I'll be working hard..."


Amanda Richer
Religious Studies major

"Well, I planned on majoring in psychology and minoring in RLST because I want to be a youth minister, and I thought that RLST would give me a great background for that position. However, after taking intro to RLST with Dr. Martin, I found myself being challenged and much more interested in that course than in my psych-related class. Obviously, I was being directed towards a RLST major instead of a psych major because I would rather be challenged in something I find to be intriguing than to have something come easily to me that I find to be not quite as interesting. I hope that my future RLST courses continue to intrigue and challenge me, and I pray that, as a RLST major, I can grow stronger in my faith so that I can be the best youth minister possible and touch the lives of many. Thanks."

2003

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Allie Higgins
Religious Studies/Communication Studies double major

"I am majoring in Religious Studies because learning about theology and everything the major encompasses has become my passion. The search to know even the smallest slice of truth is a worthwhile quest. The impacts of religion and God on society in the past and now are immeasurable, to study them is to know more about yourself and the world we live in."


Heidi Wilberschied
Religious Studies/Philosophy double major

"I've never been a conformist. I'm not satisfied walking with the flock. When people ask me what I study, I can only answer them with this seemingly vague, yet honest answer: truth. As important as such studies like biology, mathematics, and business are, I find that it is most beneficial for me to study the basics: philosophy and religion. I don't really care for dissecting pigs, I'm not concerned with the Pythagorean Theorem, and frankly I don't care whether the DOW is going up or down. I do care about God, and I especially care about what He thinks of me. I'm not studying Philosophy and Religion because I find them to be interesting, challenging, or intriguing (although I do find Philosophy and Religion to be all these things). I'm studying Philosophy and Religion because I know they're important."

2002

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Alissa Blair
Religious Studies/Philosophy double major

"The decision to become a Religious Studies major took me entirely by surprise. I had never taken any official RLST classes in high school, so when I came to Saint Mary's, theology within an academic setting was entirely new to me. I was really set on a different major, until, gradually, I felt like I was being called to RLST, instead. I think this transformation climaxed over the peroid of a week when a handful of coincidences (or as I call them, God-incidences) occured that all pointed to the RLST major. Then I just KNEW what I was going to major in. Since then, further interaction with other majors and the professors really confirmed my gut feeling. I felt so welcomed by the department and every one in it with their friendliness and a willingness to assist me in any way. My classes have been a positive challenge for my faith and reason, and the combination of course material, class discussion, and times for personal reflection have all added to my compentency and confidence of what I can contribute to the RLST department at Saint Mary's and beyond."


Margaret Zeh
Religious Studies/Humanistic Studies double major

"Why am I a RLST major is one of the best questions anyone could ask me because I am not quite sure myself. I came to Saint Mary's as a History major intending to get my certification and teach high school. Then I took my first theology and humanistic studies classes I was instantly hooked. However I, like many others thought I could not major in those subjects because I would never get a job. Then I went to Rome. I realized while I was there, that life skills could be taught in any subject, especially if you enjoy it. The experience and the religion classes that I had there have forever impacted my views on life and happiness as well as my major. I returned from Rome wanting to double major in Humanistic Studies and Religious Studies. I went to the department and explained my late decision and they welcomed me with open arms and a helpful staff. I feel like every class that I take here a Saint Mary's is a kairos. From the Introduction to Religious Studies to Biblical Theology to Thomas Aquinas the professors and topics are inspiring, seminars stimulating and lectures engaging. Do I ever think twice about being a RLST major? yes but every time I conclude with the reality that life is a faith journey more than anything else and what major better prepares you for it!"

2001

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Mary Coplen
Religious Studies major

"I have known since I was young that I wanted to teach. I spent 17 years teaching Religion at my small country parish in Michigan. During these years I realized that teaching Religion was what I wanted the most. I am hoping to accomplish a major in Education and Religious Studies. I have taken only two Religious Studies class and have found them to be challenging and enjoyable. The department is excellent and always willing to help. I am happy to be a part of Saint Mary's family."


Kathy Fech
Religious Studies/Philosophy double major

"I knew since I was a sophomore in high school that I wanted to major in Religious Studies. I had received an enormous amount of inspiration and desire to study theology from my teachers, youth director and mother. However, I was not aware as to where this course of study would take me on my educational journey. My professors were incredibly helpful and constantly challenged me to incorporate material learned in my philosophy classes into the work I did for their courses. They have also assisted me in discerning my future: a career as a hospital chaplain. The Religious Studies Department has many outstanding professors who are incredibly knowledgeable. I always found them approachable and willing to assist students in any and every way possible. My fellow majors challenged me intellectually, both inside and outside the classroom and I enjoyed learning with them and from them. Overall, the Religious Studies Department is full of dynamic professors and students who are great to work with. Since I have graduated, the professors have still been available to offer me advice and assistance. Majoring in Religious Studies at Saint Mary's was an outstanding experience and I will benefit from my time there for the rest of my life."


Jill Fenske
Religious Studies/Philosophy double major

"In the early stages of my Religious Studies coursework, theology seemed to be the least-concrete of academic disciplines. However, after immersing myself in the content of my Introduction course in Religious Studies and a morality course in Ireland, I recognized that theology is the most-concrete of academic arguments. Theology is solidly correlated and relevant to life and can also be applied to other areas of study. The depth at which theological thinking occurs improves the student's overall cognitive skills. Theological study integrates writing and critical thinking into the subject matter, and also prompts subjective insights within the material. While theology is partitioned into intellectual and introspective areas, self-realizations occur within the subject matter. Apart from the intellectual thought and theories contained in theological study, dynamic learning about one's self transpires through the study of historical and ethical/moral spheres of theology. Theology, while assisting in personal awareness, also forms the foundation of my potential career in ethical study. The Religious Studies degree provides the groundwork for future study in ethics, as I intend to pursue law school as a vehicle to ethical analysis and research. Confident that my communication skills, particuarly writing and critical thinking, will be strengthened through theological study, I willingly engage in the Religious Studies Major at Saint Mary's College."


Molly Kahn
Religious Studies/Humanistic Studies double major

"Why I am a Religious Studies major is a question that I frequently receive. I never imagined myself as a student of theology, but I truly believe that my educcation at Saint Mary's College is enhanced and is fully realized through the Religious Studies major. My journey toward theology began as an entering freshman on the way to a Bachelor of Business Administration. I thoroughly enjoyed and felt intellectually challenged by my Introduction to Religious Studies class with Professor Kaminski in the fall of my freshman year. In truth, I enjoyed it much more than my business classes. My second Religious Studies core requirement, "Catholic Social Thought," changed my life. I embarked on a difficult journey from a business and Humanistic Studies double major to arrive at my destination and am now double majoring in Humanistic Studies and Religious Studies. In the first semester of my sophomore year, I discerned an incredible connection between the two programs. While I was forcing myself to do my accounting homework, I could not refrain from examining the 'coincidences' that I was experiencing with Religious Studies and Humanistic Studies. While studying medieval times for Humanistic Studies, I found myself fascinated and challenged by the role of religion and the Chruch in the lives of Abelard, Augustine, Heloise, Hildegard, Thomas Becket, and myself. Strangely, my education began to evolve and to enrich itself. The connections that I experience in my Religious Studies/Humanistic Studies education reinforce that I have made the correct decision in studying theolgoy. Also, as Mission Commissioner for 1999-2000 on Saint Mary's College Board of Governance, I will pursue achievement outside of the classroom as I work with the Center for Spirituality, SURV, Center for Mission, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, and fellow students to apply my theological understanding to the greater campus community. Yet, my most fundamental reason for studying theology lies in my personal need to explore and to question my own beliefs, values, and religion. Honestly, I do not believe that my education and my identity can be fully investigated and eventually realized without the guidance, opportunity, and intellectual and spiritual vigor of Religious Studies. After graduation, I plan to pursue graduate level studies, and I have alreay begun to research my post-graduate options. Law, ethics, and theology are my primary interests, and ultimately, I would like to practice law (perhaps Children's Law or Adoption Law) or teach on the collegiate level. I realize that my decision to study theology will only enhance my present and my future and afford me greater opportunity and understanding of my career and my own identity."


Anna Knapp
Religious Studies/Philosophy double major

"I decided to be a Religious Studies major because when I took my first religion class here at St. Mary's, I became interested in studying religion. My first religion class was Intro to Religious Studies and I am now taking Images of Christ. The classes help you to understand and learn more about God, Jesus, and religion. The faculty in the Religious Studies department are very helpful if you ever have a question about anything. The people who are Religious Studies majors are friendly and are willing to help in the best way possible."


Tina Kosinski
Religious Studies major

"I decided to major in Religious Studies because I want to graduate college having learned more than job skills. It is true that I have learned valuable critical thinking and analytical skills through this major. I have also greatly enhanced my reading and writing proficiency. But for me, the real value of majoring in Religious Studies has been the experience of renewing the faith I thought I'd forgotten. The Religious Studies classes I have taken here have had such a tremendous impact on me and my life. I feel as though I have taken a journey and even if I wanted to return, I could not."


Melissa McClure
Religious Studies/Communications double major

"The primary reason I am a Religious Studies major is that I believe it is the ultimate science and the most important subject in our lives. Everything comes from God and goes back to God. This reminds me of our great religious studies t-shirts that say on the back, 'God made it all... we study it all.' Everything we learn leads us to know God better because we learn about God through God's effects. Every subject, every major is very important. Religious Studies helps us to recognize this supreme importance in learning and why we learn. These courses give students a foundation and keys to opening the locks of much theological insight. Archeological evidence supports that humans have had knowledge of God since the first people. I find it fascinating and rewarding to study what has always been and what will always be a facet of human life, religion. Former Saint Mary's College President, Sister Madeleva, after whom our main academic building is named, founded the School of Sacred Theology, the first educational institution in the world to offer a Doctoral program in Theology for women. It is an exciting time and place to major in Religious Studies. Choosing to be a student of theology is the best decision I have made in college. It is truly an enriching way to live. I am inspired by so many of the women theologians today and those who have passed such as Sister Madeleva. The desire to know God and to learn about God's immense love has opened up the world to me in a wonderful, blessed way. I thank God every day for the opportunity to study theology at Saint Mary's College."


Mary Sweeney Gates
Religious Studies/English Literature double major

"Before I even decided to attend Saint Mary's College, I knew I wanted to major in religion. I am a Secondary Education minor, and plan to teach high school theology and be involved in youth ministry. I am convinced that the Religious Studies Department at Saint Mary's has already and will continue to prepare me for the future. Two influential classes I have taken in Religious Studies are "Catholic Social Thought" and "Theological Ethics." Both of these courses have challenged me to further discover my own faith. The Religious Studies Department is constantly encouraging students to discover what role religion plays in their lives. I am looking foward to a continual study of faith and theology in the Saint Mary's Religious Studies Department."

2000

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Beth Lorenz
Religious Studies/Music double major

"As a freshman, I came to Saint Mary's firmly convinced that music would not only be my major, but would be my life after graduation. The summer following freshman year, the realization struck me that I was not pursuing something that would fulfill my life. It was also without a doubt that I then decided to become a major in the religious studies department. The major seems almost too good to be true. Here I have a place studying subjects that will truly increase my own life of faith; my very own relationship with God. As a sophomore I spent the spring semester abroad in Jerusalem (through Notre Dame), and that experience, as well, has broadened my spirituality especially in the Bible come alive. I encourage all to take advantage of that awesome opportunity! Returning as a junior, I am now appreciating the academic life at Saint Mary's in a new way, with small, focused classes that encourage me to participate in discussion as I have never before. The religious studies faculty are wonderful in facilitating discussion in their classes, and they are all genuinely concerned for each of their students. Another advantage of the small classes is the opportunity to spend time with other religious studies majors, all of whom are great fun to get to know! After leaving Saint Mary's, I would like to pursue divinity school in preparation for some sort of ministry (although in all honesty, these plans may very well change). A number of years of service, such as Jesuit Volunteer Communities, etc., are also a possibility. Whatever my plans end up being, they will most likely involve incorporating my faith into action with my hands!"


Molly Noem
Religious Studies/Communications double major

"As a senior just coming into the RLST major, my aim is to continue my religious studies in a way that will complement my communications studies. I am more specifically interested in the area of service work abroad, which seems to be a good mix of the two courses of study. My communications work as well as my past year in Ireland has helped me in beginning to understand other cultures and how we all effect one another, and can learn from each other. Being able to apply knowledge from the religious studies department to this will strengthen my ability to work in service of others in new cultures, and learn from them."