Lindsey Ross: Religious Studies

Lindsey Ross: Religious Studies

Senior Lindsey Ross felt sure she wanted to attend Wake Forest after touring the campus on a beautiful fall day — the kind well known among Wake Forest’s students. A religious studies major from Rocky Mount, N.C., Ross felt drawn to the school’s intimate student body and its promise of academic growth. 

Having always been a passionate student, Ross found the study of religions to be a crucial intersection between her interests in history, culture, politics and gender. The rigor and intensity of classes in the religious studies department allowed her to grow as a student and as an individual, and she found that the engaging classroom discussions enabled her to expand her understanding of diverse perspectives and contexts. 

The cross-cultural dialogues enabled by the study of religions came to shape Ross’ outlook on the past, as well as the present. Classes in Zen Buddhism and Hinduism allowed Lindsey to examine the belief systems, meanings, and sentiments located within cultural contexts she wasn’t previously familiar with. This exposure to alternative subjectivities gave Ross, and her peers in the religious studies department, the capacity to engage in conversations across cultural differences. She found this to be a valuable skill gleaned from her coursework. 

She also gained an appreciation for the power of story. As an english and psychology minor, Ross grew to understand the value of narratives in shaping social perceptions and perspectives. Her attention to narrative and the capacity of the story will inform her post-graduate pursuits. Ross plans to take a gap year to work at a law firm in Charlotte, before attending law school. In this occupation, which Ross believes is very well suited for a student of religious studies, she will surely draw on her skills in discourse and her understanding of personal context.  

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Ross reflects fondly on her experiences at Wake Forest. Her courses with professors Tanisha Ramachandran and Mary Foskett engaged her academically and facilitated great amounts of personal and intellectual growth. 

“Lindsey is one of the hardest working students I have had the pleasure of teaching. What makes Lindsey stand out is that she is actually interested in learning new things and new ways of thinking,” Ramachandran said. “I look forward to seeing what she will accomplish after graduation as she continues her education in law. Lindsey is extremely intelligent but more importantly, a lovely human being.”

During her junior year Ross studied at Casa Artom in Venice, Italy. There, she delighted in the nuanced behavioral differences between Venetian and American life. Furthermore, the city’s profound, visible and complex relationship between religion and public life was compelling material for consideration. Remarking on the luxuriant feeling of life in Venice, Ross affirmed that the experience of studying abroad was a valuable one. In Winston Salem, Ross savors her memories of social life — a close connection to her peers is partially what drew her to Wake Forest. She also reflects fondly on the thrill of rushing the court at LJVM coliseum after the Wake Forest men’s basketball team defeated Duke in the spring of 2020. 

As the religious studies materials are located in the basement of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Ross reflected on the valuable time she spent pouring over books in the privatide  afforded by the library’s lowest floor. There she was able to read, work, and reflect with immense interest and without distraction. She felt particularly compelled by the texts her courses led her to engage with, and her reading of Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited  had a notable effect on her approach to religious study. 

Ross didn’t expect to major in religious studies when she entered college. However, her tendency to challenge herself and her compulsion to explore new and interesting ideas lead her to adopt the major. This willingness to take up new perspectives and engage with unfamiliar content shaped much of Ross’ curriculum, and she recommends that incoming freshmen adopt a similarly open-minded approach to learning at Wake Forest. 

As a freshman, Ross by chance found herself in an elevator accompanied by Ed Wilson, an iconic Wake Forest personality and namesake of the Wilson wing of the library. Although she initially mistook the Provost Emeritus for the president of the university, Wilson’s well-known commitment to pursuing (perhaps unexpected) areas of inquiry as a means of personal growth inspired Ross to delve into subject matter which resonated with her personal interests. In this sense, Ross’ gut-feeling approach to enrolling at Wake Forest also led her to the fields of academic work that shaped her character and prepared her for life after Wake Forest.

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