Shannon Boley '17, right, at Nandamala Buddhist temple in Utica with Ko Salla the monk there.

Shannon Boley ’17 started Hamilton  convinced she would major in English and ended her first year in love with a major she hadn’t known existed – religious studies. She would spend the next two summers doing research related to her new interest.

As a rising sophomore Boley  spent the summer on a team of students working on a research project called “Sacred Spaces in Transition,” with Assistant Professor of Art Robert Knight and Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies Brent Plate. They researched religious spaces in the nearby city of Utica, a refugee resettlement center, and Boley got know immigrants from around the globe who are finding new uses for the old places of worship.

The next summer she and Plate studying the religious life of refugees in Utica as part of Harvard’s prestigious Pluralism Project. The “Mapping the Religious Landscape” project compares religious communities in Utica and Manchester., N.H. Boley interviewed Burmese refugees to gain an understanding of their religious lives.

Since that first year, Boley has gained a greater understanding of the beliefs that influence people’s actions around the world. She's considering an administrative career in nonprofits.

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