Pat Hong, B.A. 2020

Medical Student, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School – Newark NJ

2020 Major: Religious Studies; minors in Chemistry and Biology

How has being a Religion graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"While I had always planned to pursue a career within medicine, I always had an interest in religion and its profound impact in our culture, laws, traditions, and values. Truthfully, I took my first religion class because I had a bone to pick with certain things I was told growing up in the church. Soon, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to participate in debates about religious texts, learn about different religious traditions, and think about what defines a religion. And, the degree was extremely flexible - via cross-listed courses, I was able to not only pursue my interest in religion, but also in political science, history, and even gender studies. At the core, however, I was able to learn about the many different ways people made sense of the world, of right and wrong, and of each other. Professionally speaking, my background in religion helped me to really stand out - my degree came up constantly in my medical school interviews. But in all seriousness, the rigorous training in critical thinking and analytical writing has helped me secure professional opportunities within a field traditionally centered on memorizing scientific facts."

What advice would you give students in Duke's Religion programs? 

"Firstly, the professors, staff and graduate students are a wealth of information - if something you hear or read sparks your interest, don't be afraid to dive in and explore, even if it feels so far out of your wheelhouse. It's a smaller department, so you'll get to meet almost everyone, and it really felt like a family. Secondly, the degree is so flexible that you'll have the opportunity to pursue to your other interests, whether it be medicine, sociology, or statistics. Bringing religion into conversation with other fields can only strengthen religious scholarship. Finally, if I could go back and redo my time at Duke, I would major in Religious Studies again and again. If anything, I'd take more classes in the department and flunch more of my professors (I hope that's still a thing). I firmly believe that it was one of my best decisions, and I'm endlessly grateful for the support I felt from everyone in the department."