Religious Studies Alumni
Welcome to the Religious Studies Alumni Page. Religious Studies at MTSU began in 2017.
Have you wondered what you might do with a degree in Religious Studies? There are so many options! Below are some of the ways our alumni are utilizing their degrees.
We would encourage those Religious Studies Alumni who have not submitted information about themselves since graduating to please do so. Just send an email to a Religious Studies faculty member. We would love to hear from you!
Michael McGarvey Class of 2021 (Nonprofit Ministry)
Michael McGarvey ('21) graduated with a major in Religious Studies and a minor in Women and Gender Studies. Michael is the Mission & Program Coordinator at Miram’s Promise, a nonprofit providing pregnancy counseling, parenting coaching, and adoption-related services. We asked Michael how his Religious Studies education has helped in his work, he replied, “Religious Studies pushed me outside of my comfort zone of Christianity, and because of that, I have been able to critically think about religious differences and how they impact people and their access to the services they need. The knowledge of religious studies theory has made me a better advocate for all we serve. I believe that Religious Studies allowed me to gain diverse religious knowledge and experience to draw upon in my work in nonprofit ministry.”
roddy bell-shelton biggs Class of 2021 (Ministry)
roddy biggs ('21) graduated with a major in Religious Studies and a minor in Sociology. After graduation he applied for and was accepted into the Master of Divinity program at Meadville Lombard Theological School. We asked roddy to reflect on their time at as a Religious Studies Major, roddy stated: “During my time as a Religious Studies major at MTSU, I had the opportunity to not only learn in a classroom but also in multiple community contexts as well. Doing so allowed me to connect deeper with the courses I was taking and the learning that was taking place.” When asked how their Religious Studies education has helped in Divinity School and lay community ministry, roddy replied, “I will forever take with me the knowledge gained and the experiences had during my studies at MTSU as an RS major. But the most important things I take with me are the friendships I made and the love of a community that engages in a rigorous, yet highly rewarding academic discipline that is Religious Studies.” Currently, roddy is an Intern Minister for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg.
Jackson Gibson Class of 2020 (Park Ranger)
Jackson Gibson ('20) graduated with a double major in Religious Studies and History. After graduation, Jackson became a park ranger at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park in Downtown Nashville. As a park ranger he protects the park, protects park visitors, and helps visitors connect to the park through tours. We asked Jackson how his Religious Studies education has helped in his work, he replied, “Having a Religious Studies background has benefitted my job by giving me a good foundation for understanding and assisting people that come from many different backgrounds. The subjects and materials covered by Religious Studies help you understand how people feel, how they see the world around them, how they interact with one another, how they view their place in the world around them. We have had Buddhist monks come through the park. We have had refugee children visit the park with a translator that had to translate into two different languages so that all of them could understand the tour, just because they wanted to know more about the new place they called home. We have individuals experiencing homelessness that use the park everyday as part of their daily routine. We have an unlimited amount of people coming from unknown backgrounds and because of my Religious Studies background it is easier for me to connect to them and help them connect to the park.”
Krysta Hawk Class of 2020 (Non-Profit Management)
Krysta Hawk ('20) graduated with a double major in Religious Studies and Anthropology. After graduation, Ms. Hawk became a Homeowner Liaison at Rebuilding Together in New Orleans, LA. This non-profit organization rehabilitates homes for low-income homeowners, particularly those who are elderly, disabled, veterans, or single head of households with minor children. We asked Krysta how Religious Studies helped her on the job, and she replied, “Religion, especially Christianity, is a very big part of New Orleans culture. It is because of my degree in Religious Studies that I am able to understand the significance that religion has for our homeowners. I honestly believe that without the training in Religious Studies, I would not be able to fully appreciate the importance of a person’s religion in their day to day lives.”
Lauren Morris Class of 2018 (Therapist)
Lauren Morris ('18) graduated with a double major in Religious Studies and Psychology. After graduation, Lauren earned a MS degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Portland State University in Oregon. As a therapist, Lauren works with adolescents, adults, and couples for mental health and relational issues. She has a special interest in working with LGBTQ+ communities, trauma, and body image. When asked how her Religious Studies coursework helped her in her career, Lauren stated, it “helped me to develop my writing, critical thinking, and communication skills, which helped me succeed in a graduate program. It also helped me to develop the skill of searching for understanding before judgement. Ultimately, the Religious Studies program helped me to build a better understanding of people and the ability to better empathize and care for others. It helped me in being a better person, thinker, and therapist.”
Keven Lewis Class of 2016 (Apprentice, Funeral Home Director & Mortician)
Keven Lewis ('16) graduated with a major in Anthropology and minors in Religious Studies and Jewish Studies (this is before the creation of the Religious Studies Major at MTSU). After graduation, Keven earned a MA degree in Liberal Arts from MTSU. We asked Keven to reflect on his time studying religion at MTSU and he explained, “the faculty in Religious Studies encouraged us to visit diverse communities as part of our studies which, coupled with course work provided a holistic learning experience. Because of my studies, and the encouragement of my mentors, I was able to engage in my own long term research projects both as an undergraduate and as a graduate student – an opportunity that I don’t imagine being possible with another institution. The Religious Studies program at MTSU encourages students to pursue difficult questions about ourselves, our communities, and the world around us.” We then asked Keven how his Religious Studies coursework helped with his current career working as a funeral home director and mortician, and he replied that he learned several invaluable skills: “First, an ability to listen empathetically to those families and friends who are in the midst of a traumatic and sometimes unexpected loss of a loved one. Second, a respect for the cultural and religious beliefs associated with death – the rites or rituals to be carried out for both the deceased as well as the family who remains. Third and finally, a willingness to value the rites, beliefs or non-beliefs, and rituals as equally valuable as families process the loss of a loved one. My studies have given me the tools necessary to work with families as we create spaces of meaning amid loss.”