Every class that I have taken in the department has taught me so much about how people relate to one another across time and space and the social mechanisms tied to colonial projects and white supremacy that permeate every facet of society, including through how we perceive religious people.– becca turley ’21
Why did you major in Religion?
I chose to be a Religion major because I took Comparing Religions and absolutely fell in love with the subject and the department. I was drawn to the ways that the major combined so many different academic disciplines like gender studies, sociology, political science, anthropology, etc. through the lens of religion, which itself is a highly misunderstood topic. Every class that I have taken in the department has taught me so much about how people relate to one another across time and space and the social mechanisms tied to colonial projects and white supremacy that permeate every facet of society, including through how we perceive religious people.
Where do you imagine yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I hope to be engaging in work that contributes the world in a positive matter; a dream job that I would hope to have in 10 years (or more!) is an ambassador to India or some type of political advisor on a foreign region where I can use the invaluable knowledge I have gained from both the Religion and Political Science departments to foster positive change in the world!
Imagine a first-year student has asked your advice about REL courses. What’s the one she shouldn’t dream about missing? Why?
ISLAM AND RACE! This was by far my favorite class in the REL department and at UVM because it taught me so much about the racialization of Islam in the United States and how it relates to the delicate racial and social fabric in the US. The materials we read and the ethnographic accounts we read opened my eyes to the US as a surveillance state and inspired me to educate myself on the racialization and politicization of other minoritized identities.
If you could write any book, what would it be?
If I could write any book it would be children’s book about the Black Liberation Movement in the 20th century and the role of religion in the fight for Civil Rights in America.
Any fond memories of 481 Main Street you want to share?
I have so many fond memories in the REL department because it was the first place at UVM that felt like a home to me, rather than a temporary dorm or classroom. I would have to say that my funniest (not necessarily favorite) memory of the REL house, aside from receiving my REL mug at the end of REL 100, was getting stuck in the first floor bathroom because the lock got stuck, and I had to wait for someone to kick the door open before returning to class!
You’re finishing up in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tell us something about that experience—bonus points for including religion or the Religion Department as a way to think about it!
Graduating college in the midst of a pandemic has been a unique and difficult experience, after getting kicked out of my study abroad trip and returning to a city that looked and acted nothing like how I remembered it was very tricky for me. It has taken me a while to adjust to this new learning format, not only because taking class from home can be difficult to learn, but also because this is admittedly not how I imagined my senior year at all. Nevertheless, I have felt incredibly supported by so many people in my life during this transitionary time, and I owe a million debts of gratitude to the REL department for teaching me so much about myself and the world around me (no matter how quickly and dramatically it changes!).