The Department of Religious Studies is proud of the hundreds of living alumni who have their degree in Religious Studies from University of the Pacific. Take a look at where some of them have taken their Religious Studies degrees since they graduated from Pacific.
Trust Hilton '14
Candidate for Ordained Ministry and Seminary Student
A 2014 graduate, Trust Hilton double majored in Religious Studies and Psychology. He had originally chosen to study psychology in high school, but experienced a growing passion for religious studies in college. Currently, he is a candidate for ordained ministry with the United Methodist Church, and a seminary student at Pacific School of Religion. On Sundays, he leads a youth group and occasionally delivers sermons at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church. "I love that I have the opportunity to do meaningful, world-changing work in a career that I can get fired up about. I love that I get to 'nerd out' about anything from 'the Force' to classical music history to the opposition of conditions of social injustice, and it all counts as participating in the field of ministry," Trust says about his job. "I love that so many of my skills from college transfer so effectively. For example, 'class presentation' skills have become 'sermon' skills. I love feeling like my passions and skills belong in the world, and in the transformative work of healing the world. I also love that there are places in my field where I am allowed to be spontaneous, creative, and whimsical."
To students who are interested in studying religious studies, Trust advises them, "To notice what you are passionate about, and to find a way to do something practical with that. I tried to become a psychologist for four years and although I appreciated the field and the department, it was not something that I was passionate about. Fortunately, I found a way to do something practical with my particular passion for community by seeking to serve in a religious organization. One more piece of advice: don't over-do it with activities. Some things matter more than others, and your ability to survive college without a devastating meltdown is one of those things that matters. It's okay to let some responsibilities go to other people. Chances are, they might not do as well as you, and maybe some things will go wrong, but your well-being matters."
Regarding his favorite memory at Pacific, Trust recalls his New Testament class. "Professor Schroeder asked us to explain certain scriptural passages, and I paraphrased one as 'adultery is bad, mmmkay?' with Mr. Mackey's voice from South Park. Dr. Schroeder was doubled over, as she led the class in a chorus of surprised laughter. At other times during that class, we discussed and argued over difficult social issues, but at that time, we were able to relate with lightheartedness. These are both important parts of academic work."
Despite common misconceptions, religion is still very pertinent to the world today. "Pick a problem in the world, and you will probably find that religious illiteracy is impeding the solution in some way," Trust says. "A globalized environment means that all of the global religions have to interact now. We used to believe that with the rise of science, religious education would become less relevant, but it is increasingly clear that with the rise of globalism, the stakes for religious education are higher than ever. The same is true for your field, but it's up to you to figure out how to articulate that, because honestly, you can probably articulate it to your peers better than your professors can. All of your work can matter, but it's up to you to show it."
Lloyd Barba '10
C3 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Religion and Latina/o Studies
Lloyd Barba majored in Religious Studies and History, and is currently located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he works as a C3 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Religion and Latina/o Studies at Williams College. "I just finished teaching 'Religion and Migration' and am set to teach 'Race and Religion in the U.S. West' next semester and devote the rest of my time towards my research on religion in California. I recently accepted a faculty position at Amherst College and will be joining the Department of Religion this summer," Lloyd says.
To students who are considering studying religious studies at Pacific, Lloyd says, "Want to become a sharper and more critical thinker? The study of religion truly shapes how you think and prompts you to tackle topics in ways you may have never considered. Take the time to explore topics that you find interesting but also find ways to give to others in your scholarly pursuits. Research that can offer lessons on inspiration for a better future or confronting real world issues helps us become better together. Your professors in Religious Studies are there to help you tackle some of the toughest questions in the humanities. You'll find that some of these age-old questions date back to the earliest studied civilizations."
As for his favorite memory from Pacific, Lloyd particularly enjoyed graduation. "I'm the first in my family to attend or graduate from a university. At graduation, I introduced my family to my professors, who genuinely became my friends. I felt like it was my upbringing and my present meeting up at a crossroads for a big future decision, two different worlds came together... rather harmoniously," he recalls. "With the endless moral support of my family and professors, I went on to complete graduate studies at the University of Michigan. Graduation was that major juncture of looking at past, present, and future. I had never felt more complete on campus than at that moment."
Lloyd adds that students should take the opportunity to take upper level seminars. "The smaller discussion settings are unlike anything you'll find at most colleges or universities. I learned most in these smaller seminars. Remember that most of the materials you read are written by scholars who are heavily invested in the topic; they're specialists, so you should not be afraid to ask questions. In my case, Religious Studies made me better at asking questions about history, and I'm sure that the interdisciplinary nature of Religious Studies can help shape your thinking, be it in a different discipline or life in general," he says.
Keri Olsen '07
Ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church, hospital chaplain, and Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor
A 2007 graduate, Keri Olsen majored in Religious Studies with a "Society and Ethics" concentration and a Studio Art Minor. She is currently located in Los Angeles, where she is an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church. She also works as a hospital chaplain and Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Supervisor at UCLA Health System. "As a CPE supervisor (although not fully certified quite yet) I train lay people and clergy how to offer spiritual support to hospital patients, visitors, and staff. This educational process involves guiding my students to know themselves better, to examine their faith, and find the place where God dwells within them and gives them power to serve others with compassion and love," she says. "I really love witnessing the transformation of my students as they discover the power of their empathetic listening for those in spiritual, emotional, or physical pain."
To students who are interested in studying religious studies at Pacific, Keri advises them to look for courses within and outside the department that really fascinate them, and make those classes a priority, since the major's course requirements are so flexible. "If you are interested in the subject, you'll likely love the class! Make your education your own! I took the opportunity to study abroad and take art and dance classes alongside my religion and ethics classes. I also had a really great experience working with my academic advisor, Dr. Randels, in the creation and implementation of independent study focused on one of my spiritual passions during my last semester. It was a great way to conclude the program."
Regarding her favorite memory at Pacific, Keri recalls, "I was a Resident Assistant for most of my time at Pacific, and really appreciate the community that I became a part of in Residence Life. I became fast friends with really great people. Some of my favorite memories include participating or hosting events through Residence Life, like learning how to make sushi from a professional sushi chef, joining the salsa dancing club, and going to Volleyball games."
Katie Kimble: After graduating from Pacific in 2005 Katie completed her M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Riverside. She then moved to New Hampshire and in 2009 began working at The Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston, drawing on her study of contemporary American spirituality and 19th century spiritual movements.
She was soon promoted from Operations Coordinator to Visitor Services Manager. Katie said, "I have been greatly enjoying my career in public education about religion. Our archives are a great resource for all things pertaining to the beginnings of the Christian Science movement, and its contemporary activities."
Writing to her professors at Pacific and UC Riverside, Katie stated, "I received so much more than book knowledge from each of you, and I appreciate the opportunities I have been afforded as a result."
Sadie Stone: Sadie was selected as the "Outstanding Senior" for Religious Studies in 2007, graduating summa cum laude. She graduated from Yale Divinity School, where she managed to meet the challenge of completing her studies while having twins! She is now co-pastor of First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto.
Tatiana Forero Puerta: Tatiana is the Founder and Director of OmWellness, a holistic nutrition training program in New York City.
Tatiana has studied Religion and Philosophy at Pacific, Stanford University and New York University, and she holds various degrees in these fields. She has studied nutrition and the human body, especially in the context of historical religious healing practices. Her love for nutrition and holistic living stems from her ongoing study of yoga, philosophy and South American indigenous traditions.
Tatiana has written pieces for New York Spirit Magazine, Assisi Literary Journal, Religion and Psychology Research, and JOY: The Journal of Yoga.
Jessica Grimes: After receiving her bachelor's degree in English and Religious Studies in 2002 from the University of the Pacific, Jessica attended Yale Divinity School and received an M.A.R. (Master of Arts in Religion and Literature) in 2004. She is now an associate professor of English at Taft College in California. Jessica plans to apply to a doctoral program in the near future. A published article written by Jessica may be accessed at this link.
Joy Remy (pen name: Joy Marchand): Joy writes fiction and poetry, but also works as a medical writing associate for Dyax Corporation, a biotech company in Cambridge, MA. About the latter she says, "My interviewers were very impressed with my degree and felt that a background in Greek and Latin was perfectly appropriate for an apprentice medical writer." Joy names several faculty members who "gave me a lot of extra support during my studies."