Meet a Major: Alexa Ekberg

Alexa EkbergHometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Double major: Religion; media and culture
Graduation: May 2017

After graduation: Wants to pursue a career in film; is considering film school

"Studying religion has taught me to explore problems from different vantage points... It's made me more culturally aware."

Why did you decide to major in religion?

I knew I wanted to be a media major, and media majors are required to take a second major. Initially, I was thinking about international studies. I took Dr. French's REL 101 section on "Bush, al-Qa'ida, and Religion," and I loved it. It was different from anything I'd ever taken.

What have been your best experiences in the major?

The fact that it's such a small department means that the professors are reachable and approachable, and they get to know their students on a personal level. They know your strengths, your weaknesses, and what you need to work on, academic-wise.

One of my favorite projects was in Dr. French's REL 376 course, "Global Militant Islamisms," where we wrote policy memos and recommendations for policy changes in regards to real-life militant groups. I'm currently working on a research project that examines the role film has played in forming national identity in post 9/11 America, especially in relation to the categorization of "terrorism."

How has studying religion prepared you for a career?

Because I'm going into the field of media, studying religion didn't teach me skills specific to my career. But it taught me how to think and how to research. Studying religion has taught me to explore problems from different vantage points, exploring multiple sides and perspectives. I've learned to dig deeper into issues rather than focusing on what's available at the surface.

Studying religion teaches you to think about topics in ways you may have never considered. It's made me more culturally aware, especially in reference to current world affairs.