Meet a Major: Mary Hayes

Mary HayesHometown: West Chester, Ohio
Major: Religion, with a Spanish minor
Graduation: Projected, May 2018

After graduation: Plans to attend seminary to prepare for ordination

"A religion major equips you to be a global citizen."


Why did you decide to major in religion?

I decided to major in religion during my senior year in high school. While my pastor and I were delivering the annual mulch to members, he asked me what I was passionate about. As we kept talking, I realized I have a passion for interfaith relations, youth ministry, and religion in general.

I envision going to seminary after I graduate, and I would really like to go through the ordination process to be a Presbyterian pastor.

I am thinking about taking the LSAT, so I might end up going to law school down the road. I think I would love being a lawyer who works on behalf of nonprofit organizations.

What have been your best experiences in the major?

My first course I took in the department was on religion and evolution, taught by Dr. Duffy. It immediately opened my vision to ideas very different from my own, as well as ideas between the extremes.

My study abroad trip to Oman and UAE with Dr. French was life-changing due to being in another culture. Dr. Wilson’s courses were intriguing not only because of the topics—religions of India and marriage across cultures—but because of her desire for students to understand other cultures.

Dr. Johnson’s assignments were extreme but taught me advanced concepts and vital skills for the real world. Dr. Hanges is passionate about his students’ research. He taught me how to edit my papers (rip them to shreds) and listen to others’ input.

My favorite experience has been getting to meet some of the department alumni. I’ve had very helpful conversations with them about what I’m planning to do with my life.

How has studying religion prepared you for a career?

Even if you don’t want to work in a religious organization, a religion major equips you to be a global citizen. I’ve learned to be neutral (as neutral as one can be), empathetic, and to operate outside my comfort zone. I know how to engage with people who are different from me. I’ve built up my research skills. The courses I took as a religion major had the underlying purpose of teaching skills that would be helpful to me whether I were a geologist, anthropologist, pastor, lawyer, or politician.