As a student, what drew you to the field of Religious Studies?
I have always been encouraged to learn about the variety of beliefs in the world and how people experience religion and spirituality. Pursuing an academic program in religious studies appealed to my thirst for knowledge about diverse cultures, and an understanding of how my own religious beliefs fit into the world. It also offered a nice compliment to my music performance studies. While many people were baffled by my duel-degree program, there was a lot of overlap in the classes I was taking. Music is a crucial part of most religious traditions!
How has your expertise in Religious Studies helped you define and reach your career and personal goals?
My foundation in religious studies has helped provide a perspective of diversity for the many populations that I work and interact with in both my personal and professional life.
Can you recall any experience in Religious Studies that you found especially enlightening or challenging as a student?
I particularly enjoyed the course I took on the Origins of Christianity. I was not familiar with the text of the New Testament, and this class was a great way for me to study something that is absolutely foundational to the religion of many people in the U.S. By reading the New Testament in chronological order and from an academic perspective, I was able to take in the information in a very useful way. I still talk about this class as one of the most important classes that I took in my entire undergraduate career.
What are your favorite things about the UNCG Religious Studies Department?
The professors were outstanding in encouraging students to think outside the box and really think critically about real life issues. They were equally challenging and supportive, a rare find in academia.
Have you stayed in touch with any of the professors or faculty in the UNCG Religious Studies Department?
Unfortunately I have not stayed in touch in recent years; however, I have reconnected via Facebook!
Since graduating from UNCG, what have you accomplished in your career or studies?
After graduating in 2001 with my Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance and my Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, I began pursuing a career in sexuality education. I received my Master of Public Health in Sexuality and Health from Columbia University in 2006. I direct a peer education program on dating violence and healthy relationships for the NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence. In addition, I am a facilitator and trainer for the Our Whole Lives program, a sexuality education program of the Unitarian Universalist Association. I also write a blog, www.fearlesssexualityeducator.com.
What are your long-term goals?
I hope to continue teaching sexuality education to people of all ages. I believe that sexuality education should be focused on the positive attributes of sexuality so that people are better equipped to make healthy sexual decisions and are overall, sexually healthy individuals. Teachers need to learn about educational methods that are consistent with that goal, rather than based on fear.
As a graduate, would you recommend pursuing an academic interest in Religious Studies?
I personally enjoy learning about religion and my course studies benefitted me greatly, and I believe many people can also benefit from pursuing academic interest in religious studies.