May 9, 2018
Athens State University was pleased to honor the first graduate of the College of Arts and Science’s Religious Studies Master’s Program at the 2018 Spring Commencement Ceremony on May 5. Susan Szczepanski earned the new program’s first diploma.
Szczepanski, who had been working in corporate training and staff development, completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Religion 30 years ago, but decided to pursue a master’s degree so that she could further her career by teaching in an academic setting. “I was torn between psychology and religion, but I’d worked in the mental health field for a good number of years and thought getting a master’s in it might be too familiar – so I chose the discipline with which I was less familiar,” Szczepanski said.
The Religious Studies Master’s Program gives students a broad perspective on the study of religion that encompasses major religious traditions across the world. It is designed for any individual interested in the academic study of religion. The program is non-denominational and provides students an opportunity to learn about Religious Studies in a neutral setting.
Szczepanski enjoys writing and chose to pursue the program’s thesis track. She said that her thesis involved “an entirely different look at the life of Martin Luther, as sort of a counterpoint to the psychobiography done on him by Erik Erikson.” Her idea was “a nice mix of psychology and religious studies,” which appealed to both of her interests. After months of hard work, she successfully defended her thesis and solidified the honor of being the Religious Studies program’s first graduate.
Szczepanski’s achievement follows Athens State’s celebration of awarding master’s degrees to the inaugural class of the College of Business’s Global Logistics & Supply Chain Management Master’s Program at the 2017 Fall Commencement Ceremony after a 46-year absence of master’s programs. Athens State is proud to now offer three online graduate programs to further help students shape their skills and experience, developing a deep understanding of concepts and providing the foundation for continued student success.