What are our alumni up to now?
An MA in Religious Studies has led our alums to a variety of careers. Bella Hohler (JD/MA ‘20) clerks for the NC Supreme Court. Spencer Silver (‘20), a laboratory technician for DNA extraction and genotyping, credits her graduate studies in archaeology for helping to prepare her. Tommy Woodward (‘19), Preston Walker (‘19), Hannah James (‘18), and Alainna Liloia (‘18) are enrolled in doctoral studies. Greg Dragas (‘09) went on to teach 10th-12th grade classes on U.S. history, sociology, and religion at an independent day school. Jessica Devaney (‘06) has produced several award-winning documentaries with the production company she founded. A number of alumni, including Sarah Emanuel (‘11) and Christy Cobb (‘10), have completed doctoral programs and are now teaching at the university level in schools across the country. Other fields we have seen our alumni enter include law, criminal justice, finance, social work, not-for-profit leadership, religious leadership, library science, higher education, and more.
How did graduate studies in religion help prepare our alumni?
Our alumni express great appreciation for how department faculty helped shape their academic and professional interests. The Department for the Study of Religions is a network of support that cultivates curiosity, intellectual refinement, and professional development. The academic study of religion, in general, helps our students develop as scholars, future professionals, and citizens. Hunter Keane (‘17) a regional director at Impact America says, “When I made the decision to pursue a graduate degree in religious studies, I never expected that it would lead to me becoming an IRS-certified tax preparer or any of the other various roles I find myself in. Still, I constantly find myself utilizing the skills and knowledge I attained through RPE (Religion and Public Engagement graduate concentration) as I navigate the interactions I have with both the team I manage and the communities we serve.”
As Ryan Fitzgerald (‘11) reminds us “Graduate studies in Religion taught me to always check my frame of reference.” Greg Dragas (‘09) notes that graduate studies at Wake helped him to sharpen his writing and deepened his “understanding of the process of inquiry and how to better develop clear arguments,” skills that have paid off in his career. He adds that the “graduate faculty modeled the type of pedagogical style and student engagement that I tried to carry over to my role as a teacher.” What you learn here can be applied to a wide variety of careers.
What advice do our alums have for current and prospective students?
Ask questions! Grad school is a time to explore the topics you enjoy and your passions. Sarah Emanuel (‘11) advises, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” because the faculty here will always work their hardest to support you. She adds, “Use this time to develop not only a critical acumen within your field of study, but also a self awareness within yourself.” Prospective students are encouraged to reach out for any information! Our current students would also be more than happy to share their experiences, both academic and professional.