It was in my second year of University that I realised I needed to supplement my Psychology education with something that was more meaningful to me. I had done a few religious studies courses so I decided to declare it as a second major. Waterloo’s distance education program was immensely helpful at letting me do summer courses that were interesting, leaving me a little free time in the fall and winter to pursue a part time job.
Since entering the religious studies department I have consistently found amazing people. The staff and advisors have been helpful and caring. The faculty are passionate, approachable and intelligent. The courses are interesting and challenging. I often found that at the end of a course I could look back and see how I had changed as a person, I would be more aware of the world around me and richer from interacting diverse backgrounds represented in our department. I don’t believe that any other program can intellectually stimulate you as much as religious studies, the classes manage to combine introspection with a global focus.
As I begin my Masters at Queen’s University I feel that my undergraduate degree has more than prepared me for what lies ahead. Particularly helpful was my undergraduate thesis where I was walked through a major research project from start to finish. I improved my writing and my research skills and was challenged to bring my ideas to a new level.
My passion for Religious Studies was sparked in my first year at the University of Waterloo. The flexibility of the program and the range of perspectives in religious studies enabled me to pursue my interest in conflict, the environment, gender, justice and international issues. At uWaterloo I was able to explore the role religion plays in conflict and international relations by majoring in Religious Studies and minoring in Peace and Conflict Studies. Because both the Religious Studies and Peace And Conflict Studies at uWaterloo provide service-learning experiences, I had the opportunity to apply my theory and course work to practical experience in Guatemala, Northern Ireland, and throughout Ontario during my undergraduate years.
After graduating from St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo, I studied for my Master of Arts degree in International Development Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Although Religious Studies was not the focus of the discipline at Dalhousie, I could continue to work on issues related to religion, writing my thesis on the role religion might play in the resolution of the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict.
Missing the multi-disciplinary nature of Religious Studies, I returned to that discipline for my PhD, at the University of Leeds, in England. There, I am currently completing my dissertation with focus on the role Christianity played in South Africa’s post Apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
As a student of Religious Studies, I have had the opportunity to travel the world from Central American to the Middle East to South Africa and to live and work with people of different religious traditions. I have been exposed to many belief systems and cultures; I have witnessed the prominent role of religion in the lives of many, and I have seen the varied and changing role of religion in people’s lives. I believe that not only does religion have the power to fuel conflict and injustice, it also has a potential for liberation and tolerance.
The study of religion has provided me with a cultural awareness that will undoubtedly help me in the work I hope to do in mediation and policy writing. At this time, my studies have brought me back to the University Waterloo, where I’m teaching a Christian Ethics course at St. Jerome’s University, and where I can share my interest and passion for Religious Studies, and hopefully spark this interest in others!