Why did you major in Religious Studies?
I wanted to write a thesis in Buddhist Studies.
What was your senior thesis?
I researched the aesthetics of a form of Khmer Buddhist chant ("Quaking and Clarity: Saṃvega and Pasāda in Cambodian Dharma Songs"). This project, begun the year before I arrived at Stanford, took five years to complete and was always in the back of my mind throughout the other classes I took. It gave me a spacious intellectual sandbox to experiment in and learn about the craft of questions, research, and writing.
Where are you today, and how has your degree in Religious Studies shaped your path?
I am a sixth-year PhD student in the Group in Buddhist Studies at the [name of local archnemesis suppressed]. Go [name of fearsome omnivores redacted]! I am currently in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, finishing up field research on traditional palm-leaf and bark-paper manuscripts. I plan to finish next year and go into academia.
Why should students consider Religious Studies today?
Stanford's undergraduate Religious Studies program is a wonderful place for future academics to explore and grow. The small classes, excellent faculty mentorship, and opportunities to learn from graduate students combine the intimacy of a liberal arts college with the dynamism of a research university.