Four years of studying the complexities of one of the oldest disciplines convinced Kat Grace Poje ’16 to pursue her passion in more depth. The religion major has accepted an offer to attend Harvard Divinity School (HDS) as a Dean’s Fellow. A recognition of excellence, the fellowship includes a full-tuition grant as well as a stipend and is renewable for the length of her program. Orientation begins in late August, and after two years, she will emerge with a Master of Theological Studies.
Kat’s fascination with religion as storytelling culminated in her senior thesis project, which looked at a contemporary effort to canonize Isabel of Castile and explored the role digital tools play in shaping religious narratives. She is planning to continue studying the relationship between religion and digital technology at Harvard in a program that, much like Haverford’s, emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach.
“I am interested in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies and Harvard Law School,” Kat says. “Courses in either would offer me the chance to understand the way discourse shapes and is shaped by power structures, in settings that are not always considered ‘religious.’”
Kat’s interest in digital technology as a field of inquiry was sparked by an internship with the Early Novels Database at the University of Pennsylvania, which she started in summer 2015 with funding from the John B. Hurford ‘60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and continued over the past academic year. (She is still working there now, and will be until July 8.) She recalls how, at one point, her colleague, Librarian for Printed Books at New York University Charlotte Priddle, referred to her research as “falling down the rabbit hole.”
“It’s an apt descriptor of how I came to be interested in studying what I am,” Kat says.
Additionally, her academic path was forged by Haverford’s “Philosophy of Religion” and “Religion and the Body” classes, the latter of which was taught by Associate Professor Molly Farneth, an HDS alumna who recommended the program to Kat. Yet the most influential person in her academic career remains her mother, who never faltered in supporting her daughter in pursuing her passion for religion.
“Religious studies as an academic field often frowns upon the religious confessional,” says Kat, who hopes to eventually earn a Ph.D. and become a university-affiliated researcher. “It will be a constructive, new experience to learn with people whose faith is an acknowledged and central part of their intellectual lives.”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.