Religious Studies Alumni: Where are they now?
These are just a few of our outstanding alumni in their own words…
Will Brummett (Elon ’13):
“I graduated in 2013 with a BA in Religious Studies with minors in Political Science and Nonviolence Studies (now Peace and Conflict Studies). After graduation, I intentionally moved back to my Appalachian hometown of Jefferson City, TN, as a Niswonger Scholar who is a part of the Niswonger Foundation’s mission to combat Appalachian brain drain in East Tennessee. I currently work in Carson-Newman University’s Bonner Center for Service-Learning as their Student Development Coordinator and director of their Bonner Scholars program. I get the daily privilege of watching students discover the intersections between their academic passions, our community’s strengths, and our collective challenges as a region.
The Religious Studies department at Elon University deeply impacted me as a scholar and holistic person. Not only was I challenged to unpack my religious misconceptions and personal privileges but also, I was challenged to reconstruct a new critical lens that recognizes the complexity of religious studies and its integration into everyday life. More importantly, studying religious studies convicted me to act and continue to learn outside of the classroom. As a religious studies major, I was challenged to think critically but also to act intentionally against the personal and systematic injustices I witnessed in every day life. As an alumni, I now feel I have the responsibility to continue to apply such critical lens and compassionate actions which the religious studies faculty taught and exhibited to me every single day. I would not be who I am today without the Religious Studies department at Elon University.”
Nakhila Mistry (Elon ’14):
“I graduated from Elon with a double major in Religious Studies and Mathematics. Currently I am in Sri Lanka on a Fulbright grant as an English Teaching Assistant and afterwards I will attend PhD program for Applied Mathematics.
Since arriving in Sri Lanka, I have been teaching English at the University of Colombo to science students. Their university courses are taught in English, so I mainly teach them conversational English to expand their vocabulary and help them gain confidence in their speaking skills. Besides teaching, I spend a lot of time getting to know the community around me by trying to interact with as many people as possible. In my free time, I try to travel around Sri Lanka and visit different cities – for such a small island, Sri Lanka has tons of diversity . . .
My Religious Studies coursework prepared me significantly for living and teaching in South Asia. I am more understanding and aware of different religious beliefs, traditions, and communities and I think this has helped me greatly to connect with my students over here. Beyond being exposed to the world religions, the professors and their courses have opened my eyes to various theories and ways of thinking that have helped me look at the world in a different way. I had not expected to learn about feminist theology, race theory, queer theory, etc., but these are the ideologies and outlooks that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Even though I plan on becoming a Mathematics professor, what I learned in the Religious Studies program will stay with me throughout my career as I aim to create a positive and safe learning environment for undergraduates every semester. I truly gained so much more from the courses, professors, and department than I had anticipated.”
Summer Nettleman (Elon ’06 and Elon Law ’09):
“I graduated with an REL and COM majors but REL definitely showed me how important it was to consider the whole of a person including their beliefs and history. It taught me the importance of our ‘tribe’ and gave me the skills I needed to research, communicate and advocate for and with people very different from myself. These are skills I use everyday as an attorney.
The support I received from the whole REL dept encouraged me to pursue my dreams and I went on to graduate from the charter class at Elon Law. I am also on the board of the Junior League of Wilmington where we are dedicated to training women volunteers to better our community and specifically the at-risk youth in New Hanover County by eliminating barriers to their education.”
Erica Walecka (Elon ’09):
“I graduated from Wake Forest University School of Divinity in May and am currently completing a year long residency as a chaplain at Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem, specializing in pediatrics. I am continuing the process to become an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
Majoring in Religious Studies academically prepared me for an MDiv, but more than that, created, for me and many others, a passionate foundation of love and justice out of which strong roots are growing. Because of those early days of “seed planting” I have more courage to be a voice for change, a voice for love and a voice for radical hospitality in a world that so desperately needs it.”
To keep in touch with the department and alumni, check out our Facebook group (Elon University Religious Studies Department), follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and send your updates to Geoffrey Claussen.