Skip to main content

Department ofReligious Studies

Stories

Left to right Emma Somers, Lydia Sandy, Anna Johnson, and Hydeia Wysinger

Left to right Emma Somers, Lydia Sandy, Anna Johnson, and Hydeia Wysinger

Student Spotlights Spring 2022

This quarter, the Religious Studies Department implemented Student Spotlights, an opportunity for various Religious Studies majors and minors to ultimately answer the questions, “Why Religious Studies?” Below are the responses from four Religious Studies Students, Emma Somers '22, Lydia Sandy '23, Anna Johnson '24, and Hydeia Wysinger '25 on why they enjoy Religious Studies.

Do you have other majors/minors besides Religious Studies?

Emma: Political Science and Religious Studies double major
Lydia: Child Studies and Religious Studies double major / Urban Education inor
Anna: Religious Studies major / English minor
Hydeia: Psychology and Public Health Science double major / Political Science and Religious Studies minors

What drew you to Religious Studies? 

Emma: I grew up Catholic however throughout middle and high school I turned away from religion and faith. After taking my first religion class with Dr. Lerner as a first-year, my eyes were opened to different ways to talk and learn about religion through things like dancing and surfing. This class sparked my love for learning more about religion and discussing both the things I like and dislike about religion with thoughtful and open faculty.

Lydia: I grew up attending Catholic school my whole life! I loved learning about religion and the subject grew to be my favorite over time. The RS department at SCU has amazing faculty/staff, exciting classes, and multiple connections to life outside of campus. I knew I wanted to major in RS to grow in my spiritual life, but the department became more than classes, it is like a family to me. I think my favorite part of being an RS major is knowing the other majors and waving to them while you pass Benson or always seeing a friendly face around 3rd floor Kenna!

Anna: I wanted to become a Religious Studies major at Santa Clara because I am a Bible-believing Christian who is looking to grow in her faith! Alongside growing in my own spiritual journey, I want to continue to advance in my knowledge of all religions, different types of worship, and cultures as well. I find that religion has had such a large, if not the greatest impact on the way of the world. It’s a concept that many find refuge in while on the contrary, some may resent. I plan to pursue a career in ministry and attend seminary after I graduate from Santa Clara. I feel that the RS department here will provide me with such a solid foundation as I continue to abide in faith and serve others around me in loving kindness, gentleness, and joy.  

Hydeia: I am blessed that I had the opportunity to attend Catholic schools all my life. I am grateful at any chance that I have to grow my relationship with God and be in community with others. The Religious Studies Department at Santa Clara University fosters a faith-filled environment that encourages students to be agents of change. I knew I wanted to become a Religious Studies minor because I want to deepen my faith in the classroom and approach different courses that I am taking through an empathetic, interdisciplinary lens. I am excited to continue creating a strong community through my various religion classes. I am extremely grateful to be a part of this department!

What big question (s) do you hope to engage through the study of religion?

Emma: My main focus as a major is looking at how religion influences American politics and the ways in which religion is harnessed for both good and evil. My big questions I hope to gain understanding by the time I graduate are: How is religion being used in contemporary society? Where do we see religion both covert and overtly? How is religion impacting modern society? How has religion evolved in the modern age? What is the new relationship between church and state? 

Lydia: My main focus as a major is looking at how religion influences American politics and women’s rights. My big questions I hope to gain understanding by the time I graduate are: Can there be women priests in the Catholic Church? Does the Hebrew Bible empower or tear down women? What scriptures have been linked to US history and how has it changed over time? If you ever want to talk about these questions or more let me know! 

Anna: I have a few questions and topics that I’m really interested in engaging in during my time in the RS department. I am hoping to learn more about the difference in Jesus’ role in the Abrahamic religions. I am also interested in learning more about the concept of humanism and atheism, as well as how they interpret the way the world around us works.

Hydeia: A big question that I hope to engage through the study of religion is: how can we, as a society, work to make society a more equal and equitable place for all people? I believe by studying religion, it calls all people to look within ourselves and question how we can selflessly serve our communities and ensure the betterment of all people.  

If you could meet one person for the history of religion, who would it be?

Emma: St. Ignatius
Lydia: Pope Francis or St. Lucia
Anna: Jesus
Hydeia: St. Francis of Assisi

 

Pictured (left to right): Emma Somers '22, Lydia Sandy '23, Anna Johnson '24, and Hydeia Wysinger '25