Matt Blazer: I entered the Religious Studies Program because I could not get enough of text-based religion courses. I stuck with it because I listened to a Religious Studies graduate student say, "I went into business. In my interviews I told them I knew how to think critically, and anything else they should be able to teach me." She came back after 5 or so years for her master's. My own time at MU allowed me not only to study as deeply as I desired under good guidance, but it helped me to test out of a few classes in seminary. I am deeply thankful for the respectful, thorough, academically rigorous degree at MU. I'm a pastor in Connecticut (www.cpcbarn.org) at a Presbyterian Church. Throughout my time working for the local church in Saint Louis (2001-2013) and now Simsbury (2014-) I have had the privilege of running a non-profit art gallery through the church, preaching Sunday services, running a moderated discussion of all things political/local/religious at a bar in STL, and all of the in between as the church attempts to love our neighbor wherever she finds herself.
Emily Clark graduated from the M.A. program in Religious Studies in 2009 with a focus on religion in America. After Mizzou, she went to Florida State University and graduated a Ph.D. in Religion in 2014. Upon completion of her Ph.D. she moved to yet another region of the country and began working as an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Gonzaga University. Her first book, A Luminous Brotherhood: Afro-Creole Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans, was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2016 and won the Francis B. Simkins Award (Southern Historical Association) and the Michael Thomason Award (Gulf South Historical Association) in 2017.
Abel R. Gomez graduated from the M.A. program in Religious Studies in 2015 with a focus on Indigenous Religions. He is currently a PhD student in the Religion Department at Syracuse University and has recently completed a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Women's and Gender Studies. Abel plans to continue his research on ceremony and sacred sites protection among Native American communities for his dissertation research.
Mariam Goshadze graduated from the M. A. program in Religious Studies in 2012 and is currently a Doctoral Fellow in Religion at Harvard University working on indigenous religion in Ghana. She has received Harvard's GSAS Pre-Dissertation Summer Grant for research in Ghana, the Center for African Studies Summer Grant for Research in Ghana, Harvard's Certificate of Distinction for Excellence in Teaching, the Hanson Award for Special Service to Graduate Students, the Fredrick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship and the Loeb Committee Full Academic Year Fellowship 2017-2018. She has presented numerous conference papers on religion in Ghana. Her publications include “Searching for the Golden Stool: Ghana’s National Myth inthe Era of Nkrumahist Self- Construction”. CSWR Today (2014). Cambridge, MA and “Gorbachev’s Perestroika and the Aftermath of the Soviet Nationalities Policy” published in Identity.
Eric L. Lancaster earned an M.A. in Religious Studies in May 2014. While he was in the program, the department facilitated his study abroad opportunities in Japan and China. Since graduation he has taught courses in Religious Studies, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese at local schools and colleges and given guest lectures in a variety of classes. He currently teaches all four years of Japanese language at the University of Missouri. When not in the classroom he travels extensively to give presentations on Japanese theater. He has presented in state and regional Japanese Festivals as well as at high schools and universities in the United States from Florida to Wyoming. He has also performed at several venues in Japan across the islands of Honshu and Shikoku. One of his performances was captured and appeared in a Japanese calendar, for the month of June 2012. In addition to these presentations, he was also cast to play the lead role in the short-film Kaiju Bunraku, which has been screened at several festivals in the United States and abroad.
Adam T. Miller graduated from the M.A. program in religious studies in 2013 with a focus in South Asian religions, particularly Buddhism. He is currently a PhD student in History of Religions at the University of Chicago, an online instructor for Central Methodist University, an Editorial Assistant for History of Religions, and Book Review Editor for the Bulletin for the Study of Religion. His primary area of research is the history and literature of Mahāyāna Buddhism in India, particularly discussions and depictions of emotions in systematic and narrative literature. He also maintains a strong interest in the histories of the disciplines of Buddhist studies and History of Religions, as well as theory and method in the study of religion.
Thalia Sass (BS BA ‘16) moved from her home state of Missouri to Boston in January 2017 to pursue of Master’s of Molecular and Cell Biology at Brandeis University. During her time at Brandeis, Thalia published her thesis entitled Functional Characterization of Circular RNAs in May 2018. Thalia is excited to begin her PhD in Molecular Biology at Brandeis University during the summer of 2018. Her passion for Religious Studies has not wavered since her graduation from Mizzou. She continues her study of religion through auditing classes at Brandeis and independent study of Jewish history. Outside of her graduate studies at Brandeis, Thalia has been active in her Boston community through work with her sorority alumna group, founding the Brandeis Science Policy Initiative, and cycling through the streets of Boston.
J. R. Forasteros earned a B. A. in Religious Studies in 2006. He currently lives in Dallas, TX, where he serves as the Teaching Pastor for Catalyst Community Church. He is the author of Empathy for the Devil, a blend of historical fiction and non-fiction that examines what we have in common with some of the most infamous villains in the Bible. He co-hosts several podcasts, including the StoryMen, In All Things Charity (a feminist theology podcast) and Don't Split Up! (a horror film review podcast). His wife, Amanda, skates for Assassination City Roller Derby as the fearsome Mother Terrorista.