Julian  Peña

Julian Peña

Graduation Year

Why did you choose to major in Religious Studies?

I was born and raised Catholic, and I often wondered why religion was so meaningful to my family. That question lead to other questions: Why is Catholicism meaningful to other Catholics? Why is religion meaningful to so many other people as well? What is religion even? By then I was so far down the rabbit hole that I couldn't leave without making a significant attempt at answering these questions.

Tell us about your senior capstone research or a favorite research project in Religious Studies. 

My senior capstone involved the depiction of religion in film. It was fun to develop an idea that began as a Facebook post into a lengthy academic paper! If I were tasked with writing the capstone now, I would want to write about Catholicism in some way, perhaps about the differences in importance among first and second-generation immigrants. I imagine it would involve interviewing communities familiar to me, and that would be fun to do up and down the Bay. Writing this makes me think I should take some time to do it!

Where are you today (job, city, etc)? How has your degree shaped your interests and future paths?

I double majored in Electrical Engineering, and I am now pursuing a career path in Electrical Engineering here in Silicon Valley. I miss Religious Studies dearly, and often turn to my education for some insight on the weightier matters of life. What is a good life? How do I live it authentically? And how do I reconcile my personal politics with the doctrine of the Church? Religious Studies hasn't left my mind since graduation, and I think it has become even more salient.

Why should students today consider taking a course or majoring Religious Studies and what can they expect?

Religious Studies is a great introduction to the humanities and its skillset. Through Religious Studies one develops their critical reading and thinking abilities, both of which are essential in communication. Furthermore, Religious Studies classes always include discussion between classmates and professors. The diversity of thought and experience that assembles in a seminar is a treasure of the University that must be experienced firsthand.