Joshua Andrzejewski '07
"The coursework I took at Elizabethtown in world religions opened my mind to the beliefs and practices of other faiths."
What made you choose Religious Studies as a major and, further, what made you choose Elizabethtown?
I felt a call to ordained ministry during high school and wanted to get my bachelor’s degree at a small school where I’d be treated as an individual. My plan was to go to seminary after college, so I hadn’t intended to be a Religious Studies major at Elizabethtown. I had my first-year seminar – “The Bible as Literature” – with Dr. Christina Bucher and took Hebrew with her in my second semester. It wasn’t long before I changed to a double major that included Religious Studies because I just couldn’t get enough of the material.
How did your Elizabethtown education prepare you for your career?
I’m so glad I overcame my initial hesitance to declare a Religious Studies major at Elizabethtown, because it was essential in preparing me for my graduate studies. Many of my seminary classmates struggled with ideas and coursework I’d already been exposed to at Elizabethtown. The writing and introspection I did at Elizabethtown also aided me in my efforts to become ordained, and it was truly a joy to have Dr. Bucher present the day I became a minister – more than four years after I graduated from Elizabethtown.
Tell us about the day-to-day of your career – and, in what ways do you feel you are carrying on the mission of Elizabethtown – where learning is most noble when used to help others?
As a pediatric chaplain at a level-1 trauma center, I am reminded daily that my education is used best when I am serving others. I draw from my education in Religious Studies as I help people to articulate the ways in which their faith is helping them to cope with the unimaginable. A primary competency for the Association of Professional Chaplains is to “provide pastoral care that respects diversity and differences.” The coursework I took at Elizabethtown in world religions opened my mind to the beliefs and practices of other faiths.
What is most memorable from your experience as a Religious Studies major at Elizabethtown?
Seminary students normally learn Hebrew in intense, 10-week semesters, so the ability to learn Hebrew over the course of several years was a precious gift. At Elizabethtown, I had the luxury of being able to study at a more leisurely pace and to go far deeper than many of my graduate school classmates ever did. My education at Etown left me with far more than a grasp of Hebrew vocabulary and grammar; it taught me the complexity of interpreting a living text and the sacred responsibility of carrying that message to people today.