Why did you major in Religious Studies?
I love history, philosophy, art, and politics, and I wanted a lens through which to study all of the above. Religious Studies was all that and more.
Tell us about your senior capstone research or a favorite research project in Religious Studies.
I did my senior project on the relationship between the cult of Saint Geneviève and the French monarchy. It allowed me to explore the history of Paris through the lens of political and religious patronage, and drove home to me that belief shapes our world and institutions, sometimes so profoundly that you still feel the ripples many regime changes later, especially if you know where and how to look.
Where are you today, and how has your degree in Religious Studies shaped your path?
I run office operations for Palantir in Europe and live in Paris; I fell hard for Paris when studying abroad to complete my senior project and now I'm back! But RS also shaped my interests in other ways, such as what I read and how I look at the city and what points of interest I show to visitors and the extremely specific medievalist jokes I make. And it taught me to think critically in a way that is crucial in the current political climate.
Why should students consider Religious Studies today?
Expect to examine texts critically that you may not be accustomed to reading critically (e.g. scripture). Expect to employ an anthropologist's open-mindedness when reading source texts, and have whole worlds open up to you when you do. Expect to grapple with very complicated questions pretty much all the time. Expect the unexpected—like accidentally becoming the family museum guide because you know what's going on in most of the pictures. Expect to answer a lot of stupid questions from people asking you "how do you plan to make any money with that useless degree?" but being 100% sure of your decision anyway.