Kim Westermann, a Religion major who graduated in 2000, went on to get her M.T.S. (Master of Theological Studies) degree at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, in 2002.Kim currently works in the field of development for the non-profit organization Habitat for Humanity in Raleigh, NC. She is hoping to pursue her M.S.W. (Master of Social Work) degree at North Carolina State University in the near future. In reflecting on her decision to major in Religion Kim says,
Without a doubt that my Gettysburg education and specifically my religion major prepared me to think both critically and compassionately about people’s deepest held beliefs. It made me more aware of all the spiritual resources that are available in the world, and helped me understand my own tradition. It taught me to respect the inexplicable and mysterious parts of spirituality as well as a healthy suspicion of faith without reason. It made me a better thinker, and that prepares you for anything!”
Benjamin Stoltenberg, a Religion major who graduated from Gettysburg College in 2001, is putting his Religion major to good use serving for two years in the PeaceCorps (with his wife Lauren) in Albania. For three years after college Ben served as an AmeriCorps Volunteer working with low-income communities in Honolulu and Baltimore City. He then joined the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal Agency that oversees the AmeriCorps program, where he worked in Washington DC on policy issues surrounding Faith Based Groups accessing federal funding. In the time just before he joined the PeaceCorps Ben developed and managed AmeriCorps grants for the States of Maryland and Delaware and continued to volunteer with Medical Missions International, an NGO that he became associated with while at Gettysburg College,. During his ten years with MMI Ben has volunteered his services in Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, the Dominican Republic, and Ghana. Ben describes the value of his Religion major in the following words:
The study of Religion is the study of history, culture, language and current events. Having this background has allowed me to fit easily into several different positions. My work with the White House's Faith Based Initiative is an easy example of how my major helped me with my job. By having an understanding of different religions it made it much easier to educate groups representing all faiths on opportunities for government funding. Also in my development work with AmeriCorps it provided a greater understanding of working with faith based groups, so I could better help them help themselves, without fear of losing their religious identity. My Religion major provided me with the diverse background in multiple subjects that continues to help me in working with different cultures around the world.”
Curran Geist graduated from Gettysburg College as a Religion major in 2002. He went on to work in the Americorps VISTA program and was in the first class to graduate from the Strength Through Diversity New York City Young Professionals Leadership Program, which is sponsored by the American-Israel Friendship League. Currently, Curran is the Program Manager for the Simon Wiesenthal Center - New York Tolerance Center, which is a multi-media training facility that works with law enforcement, youth, and educators.
I have many fond memories of my time at Gettysburg College. One of my best decisions was to become a Religion Major. I chose this Major because of the department’s stellar faculty and because it gave me a wealth of knowledge spanning many academic fields. I was able to learn about history, philosophy, sociology, language, and even the arts all in one Major. Having such a multi-faceted education really helped prepare me for the competitive job market of today which requires people to handle a wide-variety of tasks and responsibilities. Since graduating, I have found many opportunities to use what I learned in professional settings. The Religion Major helped me develop both professional and personal skills that allowed me to thrive in the field of diversity training. It has helped me gain a deeper appreciation for people's unique backgrounds as well as giving me the critical thinking skills to succeed in a high-paced job. I highly encourage other students to choose this Major because of the huge impact it has had on my life.”