During my junior year of college, I signed up for a Jewish Studies class as an elective. While I knew that I would enjoy the class, I was a general history major, from an Irish-American family, and Roman Catholic; I was fairly certain that it would remain just that- an interesting elective. I was completely wrong. Within a few months, I declared a double major in Jewish Studies and history and decided to focus my future educational career on comparative religion and interfaith dialogue.
Jewish Studies allowed me to focus my classes and research in a way that is often lacking in general humanities majors. The faculty members were all tremendously helpful and insightful; I was able to study sacred Jewish architecture in the Midwest under Dr. Timothy Crain, I was challenged to reevaluate post-Holocaust theology by Dr. Rachel Baum, and I cannot overstate the help that Dr. Lisa Silverman continues to give me. I graduated summa cum laude in 2010 with BAs in history and Jewish Studies, and was honored to receive the 2009-2010 Chava Frankfort-Nachmias Award for Excellence in Jewish Scholarship. I was so impressed by the introduction to Jewish scholarship that I was given by the Center for Jewish Studies that I decided to continue in graduate school, and I am currently pursuing a master's degree in history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, focusing on Jewish-Christian relations.
My involvement in the Jewish Studies major did not just enhance my undergraduate experience, it introduced me to the vibrant local Jewish community. This amazing community not only lends a tremendous amount of support to the academic goals of UWM's Center for Jewish Studies, but they welcomed and supported me throughout my educational experience at UWM.