Dear 2020 graduates,

MA Religious Studies: Nichole Ballard

BA Religious Studies: Ernesto Aguirre, Rachel Foster, Alec LaFata, Justin Peters, Aldo Tucillo, Jessica Weiss, Ashlyn West

Here are some messages from the Religous Studies faculty in celebration of your achievements:

Congratulations, may your star shine brightly!  ~Kate Kelley

Graduates! Wow you have survived through all kinds of difficult situations, e.g., crass administrators, protests, crazy politicians, weird professors, the pandemic, so as I see it you have now cultivated an advanced tool kit to survive and thrive in the wild world outside of MU. Truly we faculty are very proud of you and your accomplishments and we know that your MU experience has just been the runway to wonderful adventures that lay ahead for all of you. You are not just survivors, you are achievers and winners, and you will continue to be in this universe of constant impermanence. Cultivate equanimity and you will always stay above the fray of ordinariness and banality. I have every faith that you (and your generations) are the ones who will make the changes and adjustments needed to save humanity- or at least the important species- as well as the infrastructure of our planetary habitat. One last thing-- remember that all the atoms that comprise your bodies are literally star dust and without massive chaotic blasting supernovas none of us could be here. So continue to connect to your interbeingness and all will be as it should/could/would. Infinite congratulations from another member of the faculty of Religious Studies. ~Dan Cohen

You’ve spent many years and thousands and thousands of dollars of somebody’s money to earn a Bachelor’s degree, something very few Americans will ever achieve, and all I can say is “congratulations.” For reasons that I’m sure are related to Protestant stoicism, the English language has no way to convey a sentiment of praise commensurate to how much physical, mental, and emotional labor you’ve put into making this happen. And the alternatives are worse, all of them saturated with the Protestant ethic: good job, good work, well done, way to go (?), and my favorite, the intensely passive aggressive condescension of “good for you.” If we all spoke Arabic I could say alf mabruk – calling down a thousand blessings that would stick to you like a powerful charisma. Or I could say ma sha’ allah – whatever God wills, a prophylactic acknowledgment that with such a tremendous accomplishment you’ll need protection from the evil eye. But, ultimately, ours is not a culture that can produce the ornate and hyperbolic praise you deserve. Rather, I will state plainly and with true American practicality: I’m sorry that we trashed the planet, automated the workforce, unleashed a pandemic, and crashed the economy. It was mostly the baby boomers who did it. But I have no doubt that you and your cohort will be able to handle it. And if not, you have degrees in religious studies and there’s always money to be made in an apocalypse. ~Nate Hofer

You are doubly awesome for both graduating AND for doing it during a global pandemic! The road ahead will have its share of obstacles, but you’re all strong enough to overcome anything that comes your way. So stay strong, better days are ahead once we’re out of quarantine. First stop graduation. Next step… conquering the world! ~Dennis Kelley

CONGRATULATIONS to all of you! To complete your degree during a pandemic is an astonishing accomplishment and a testament to your hard work, engagement, and perseverance. I am so very proud of all of you. I look forward to seeing you go forth and be successful in the world – and make sure to let the Religious Studies know what you are up to! We’d love to keep in touch with you. ~ Signe Cohen

Religious Studies List of graduates 2020