Alunmi Spotlight:  Randy Paris, 2011

What are you doing today (professionally) and how did studying Religion prepare you for this?

I’m a Confidential Assistant at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where I help a team focused on leveraging science, technology, and innovation for the public good. This includes work on everything from enhancing education delivery, to helping small business grow, to expanding human capacity in space. 

Studying religion at Wake helped me succeed because it showed me the value of expanding my intellectual horizons – exploring tough questions, stretching my brain, and building empathy.

In your opinion, what are the benefits of studying Religion?

The Religion Department at Wake is an environment where students are freed from a lot of the strings that make other  departments feel more like work than play. In the Religion Department, there’s much more space to dive into your passion – to grow how you’d like to grow.

What advice do you have for current Religion students?

Take Ritual studies.  Explore Dr. Boyd’s Religion & Public Engagement program and be sure to read “Making Justice Our Business.” 

How have other areas of your life been shaped by studying Religion?

The word religion utterly fails to encapsulate the full value of the intellectual experience offered by the department. I use what I learned in religion every day to help be a smarter individual, stronger professional, and better person. 

ReimersAlumni Spotlight:  Sarah Reimers, 2009

UPDATE:  Sarah has received the Shaffer Fellowship from Notre Dame Law School to work  for the Colorado Legal Services Department in their anti-human trafficking and U-Visa projects for the two years following her graduation in May, 2014.

 What are you doing today (professionally) and how did studying Religion prepare you for this?
 I am currently in my third year at the University of Notre Dame Law School.  I plan to practice immigration law upon graduation in the spring.  Though I have always had an interest in studying the law, my degree in Religion, in part, led me to study immigration law at Notre Dame Law.

 In your opinion, what are the benefits of studying Religion?
Studying religion prepared me for law school by teaching me necessary analytical research and writing skills.  Law school requires careful attention to detail and reasoning, also required in a major in Religion. 

 What advice do you have for current Religion students?

I have two pieces of advice.  The first is to take as many courses as possible; even in areas you may not think you are interested.  The professors in the religion departments are all experts in their field and they are truly able to provide valuable unique insights into their areas.  Though I went into the religion major thinking I wanted to focus on East Asian religions, I ended up with a fascination of religion in America and focused the majority of my time on classes in that area. 

The second is to write as much as possible.  If you plan to return to academia in any discipline, the benefit of having carefully honed research and writing skills are invaluable.  Writing an honors thesis my senior year was one of the most valuable lessons I learned at Wake Forest.  It taught me the necessity of hard work, diligence, and attention to detail in order to get results.  The professors I worked with both guided and mentored me, but also encouraged me to do the majority of the work independently.  Take advantage of the opportunity to write a thesis.

 How have other areas of your life been shaped by studying Religion?

Studying religion has given me a desire to travel and learn about new places, while also making me more self-aware about the religious traditions in which I was brought up.  It was eye opening to learn about the Protestant religion from a removed, academic standpoint. 

 Studying religion both helped to open my worldview by studying different religious traditions, but also gave me a greater insight into various cultures.  I studied abroad in Siem Reap, Cambodia after my sophomore year at Wake Forest.  While there, I learned about the Buddhist religion, which I continued to learn about in various classes at Wake.  After graduation in 2009, I moved to Cambodia and lived there while working for a human rights organization before coming back to law school.  I found that I was better able to acclimate to the culture because of my previous studies.  Religion is an integral part of many societies, and having a greater understanding and appreciation of these religious traditions helped me be a more respectful guest in the country.


The Seminar on Non-Violent Social Change is dedicated to helping justice advocates across the academic and public sphere develop skills and gain historical perspective for advancing current social issues in their communities. Inspired by the work of our predecessors in the Civil Rights Movement some 50 years ago, participants engage in an intensive one week seminar course facilitated by renowned Civil Rights icon, Rev. Vincent Harding and social justice practitioners.

Best known for his work with and writings about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Harding is a notable historian and religious scholar who uses past and present social movements to help participants understand what is needed to galvanize support of constituents and bring nonviolent social change.

Nightly Agenda

Required Readings


Donald O. Schoonmaker Faculty Award for Community Service

Professor of American Ethnic Studies Ulrike Wiethaus received the Donald O. Schoonmaker Faculty Award for Community Service, which recognizes extraordinary community service by a faculty member. In addition to organizing and leading many community-oriented initiatives, Wiethaus has taught service-learning courses with a focus on the Native American culture and obtaining cross-cultural perspectives. She also provides workshops with her students at a nearby correctional facility to assist inmates in successful re-entry. “It is hard to imagine someone who epitomizes our commitment to Pro Humanitate more energetically or with more personal integrity than does Ulrike,” said her colleagues.

“Lived Religion and Liberation Theology in the Americas: A Critical Conversation”

Thursday, January 23rd 4:30 p.m.

Wingate 302




Mitchell Cameron Currin ‘07

What are you doing today (professionally) and how did studying Religion prepare you for this?

I am currently working in University Advancement processing gifts. My Religion degree helps me to appreciate and understand the different reasons that people feel motivated toward charity and service.


In your opinion, what are the benefits of studying Religion?

Religion is at its heart a study of people and how they understand and interact with the world around them. This is critical when living and working in a global context. My Religion degree has prepared me to approach life with a greater sense of empathy professionally, socially, politically, spiritually, and personally.

What advice do you have for current Religion students?

Approach your study with an open mind. That might lead you out of the comfort zone of your experience of religion, regardless of what that experience may be. Look for connections in and across your classes, but don’t always assume that connections are there to be made. Participate in the dialogue always – in and out of the classroom. Make the most of your experience at Wake. Find some time to live out the Pro Humanitate motto off campus. Winston-Salem has a great nonprofit community, and the best of Wake Forest is shone and experienced through service the community. Religion is a living discipline, and regardless of your approach to the subject, there is much to be learned outside the classroom.

How have other areas of your life been shaped by studying Religion?

One of my favorite things about Religion as an academic discipline is that the subject matter is so easily accessible. By that I mean that labs and specialized equipment are not required. Since graduating from Wake, I’ve had the opportunity to work in some diverse areas in Charlotte and Winston-Salem with Goodwill Industries and the YMCA. Those experiences have provided a great opportunity to observe and learn from those people and communities. If you know where and for what to look, there are fascinating elements of American religious history and modern religious practice moving within the world. While that reality looks different in different parts the world, it remains present everywhere. In that way, the study of Religion has made me an active scholar in all elements of my life.