Class of 2010
As a religion major at UE, Alex Thompson '10 discovered the works of N.T. Wright, an Anglican bishop and one of the world's leading New Testament scholars. "I was first introduced to his work as a student in Dr. Ware's classes," Alex says, "and have since longed for the opportunity to learn from him."
As the 2012-13 recipient of Emory University's prestigious Robert T. Jones Jr. Fellowship, he will do just that. A current Master of Divinity student at Emory's Candler School of Theology, Alex was selected to receive one year of full funding to study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. There, he will study biblical interpretation, Christian history, and systematic theology with Wright and pursue a master's degree in scripture and theology.
For this and his other accomplishments, Alex credits UE's religion program for providing an excellent foundation â€” in particular, he believes UE's focus on the biblical languages gave him invaluable skills in working with the biblical text, and helped him thrive in seminary courses. The program's distinctive interdisciplinary focus on theology, history, and biblical interpretation was also crucial to his development, says Alex. "Courses like Dr. Oliver's Religion, Peace, and Justice integrated personal morality and commitment to justice in the world in a dialogue with issues of faith in a way that prepared me to think (as a minister) about the role of the church in shaping the world."
After graduating from Emory in 2014, Alex hopes to earn a PhD in New Testament and early Christianity, teach at the university level, and seek ordination as a United Methodist Church elder. "UE couldn't have been a more perfect fit for preparing me for graduate work and my future profession," Alex says. "The faculty at UE were easily accessible, always available to answer questions, and cared about my well-being as a scholar and human being."
"UE's religion program is a hidden gem at the University, with excellent and engaging faculty who are passionate about what they teach and are able to transfer that passion to you as well."
Class of 2010
For Diane Pottratz, the internship and study abroad opportunities at UE have been a vital part of her academic experience. "I spent a semester interning for a children's ministry in downtown Evansville. It was a great experience and really helped me define what I did and didn't want from a career." Her study abroad in Stellenbosch, South Africa, also had a major impact, culminating in her senior thesis on the role of faith in the struggle for civil rights in South Africa.
But Diane believes the greatest impact on her academic and career path has come from her close relationship with her professors: "The religion department is a small department and the professors know each of the majors and minors well. The time and energy they put into helping me explore different areas of thought within my major and the career options that I now have has been invaluable. I can't say enough good things about the professors in this department!"
After graduation, Diane will work for YouthWorks!, an organization that provides short-term life-changing mission trips. Following a short-term assignment there, she is looking into one- or two year-long service opportunities that will allow her to investigate several career paths. "Regardless of what I choose to do, my background in religion has offered me a great base to continue to explore human nature, relationships, and behavior."
Class of 1998
As a UE student, Brad Rice felt the small class sizes facilitated stimulating discussions and personal attention. "I chose UE because of its academic reputation, and I wanted to attend a university where the professors care about their students - which is what I found at Evansville." Studying religion was an exciting undertaking for Brad because of the types of difficult questions one asks: "What does the Bible say about suffering?" or "Why is there so much conflict in the Middle East?" Exploring answers to such pressing questions is both the challenge and the reward of studying religion.
After graduation, Brad earned a Master of Theological Studies and a Master of Sacred Theology degree at Boston University School of Theology and a Master of Theology from Harvard Divinity School. "After studying three years of ancient Greek with Professor Ware, I gained a foundation for later studies. I'm using those same skills with the New Testament Language Project, a research project involved in creating an online, interactive reference work for the ancient Greek of the New Testament."