Skip to main content

Joe Paolelli '11

The Religious Studies program at Northwestern provided me with a superb general knowledge of the major world religions. I gained this benefit not chiefly through rote memorization, but through the department's operating philosophy of immersion in the worldview of another. Texts and lectures encouraged me to temporarily bracket my own views and imagine the world through the lens of another religion. This exercise of empathy- understanding without necessarily agreeing—was valuable in my own growth as a person, but was also an excellent way to learn about other religious traditions.

Finally, it gave me a greater appreciation of my own religion. When we take something wonderful for granted, we must discover what sets apart in order to appreciate it anew. I am currently seeking an MA in Theology to prepare me to teach religion at a Catholic high school. Northwestern provided an excellent foundation for this endeavor, forging me into a well-rounded and knowledgeable student of religion. To my future students, I hope to pass on the value of respect for other religions, while emphasizing the importance of holding fast to one's own faith. My experience in Religious Studies reinforced the importance of both.