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Neela E. Kale '01

My interest in the “big questions” that humankind seeks to address through religion drew me to study religion. Although I was raised a Catholic Christian, my family and friends come from diverse backgrounds. Thus I appreciated the opportunity to explore the world’s great religious traditions in an academic rather than confessional setting. Along the way I learned to read and write well, to listen and speak well, and to evaluate and propose arguments – the hallmarks of a liberal arts education. I recommend the religion major to anyone, believer or not, who is interested in the way religion shapes us as individuals, communities and cultures. Recent world events only reinforce the importance of understanding the potential of religion at its best and the peril of religion at its worst.

A chance encounter on study abroad in Mexico led to my senior honors thesis on the role of the Catholic Church in the Mexican indigenous movement and then to three and a half years of volunteer service there. On returning to the United States I entered seminary and earned a Master of Divinity. Since then I have worked in Catholic religious education, serving primarily a Mexican immigrant population. The perspective gained from a broader look at world religions, in a secular context, has proved invaluable in this work. Learning about the paths of others gave me the necessary insight to claim the path that is my own and to help others to do so in my career.