Pearl Barros '05
“Who is God?” “Why is there so much suffering in the world?” “What happens to people when they die?” These are a few of the questions I started asking my grandmother when I was about eight years old. I promise you that I was not a morbid child – like other kids of the 1980’s I had my fair share of troll dolls and neon leg warmers. But for whatever reason, I gravitated toward these questions. Some might call this a sign of vocation, a calling toward a particular life’s work. As I would later discern, my calling is to the academic study of religion. I am interested in how people make meaning in their lives; I want to know what makes them “tick.” Or as Paul Tillich would say, I want to know about what “ultimately concerns” them. In 2001, I entered Santa Clara University as a double major in English and Religious Studies. It was at SCU where I first learned about theologians and thinkers like Tillich, Karl Rahner, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Kwok Pui Lan, Musa Dube, Ada María Isasi-Díaz – to name but a few. Their work led me to further questions that I pursued through graduate and doctoral studies. Recently, I graduated with my doctorate in Religion, Gender, and Culture from Harvard University. My dissertation was entitled, “Transforming Suffering: Insights from the Work of Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa.” Although it draws upon scholarship I only encountered in graduate school, there are echoes of those earlier childhood and college questions throughout it. So, as you study at SCU, pay attention to the questions that you ask for they might also be asking something of you.