Christopher McCooey '10
"Dr. Jeffery Long helped expand and deepen my knowledge and understanding of the traditions of India, where I studied abroad in my senior year, and which continues to be the focus of my studies. I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in the field..." -- Christopher McCooey
Christopher McCooey ’10 graduated with a degree in Religious Studies, where he focused on Asian religions and ministry studies. He’s now attending Naropa University in Boulder, Colo., working on his master's degree in Contemplative Religious Studies with a concentration in Sanskrit. He also teaches yoga at a local studio and gym. We asked Christopher to share his E-town experience with us.
What made you choose religious studies as a major and, further, why did you choose E-town?
I entered Elizabethtown College with the intention of pursuing a life as Presbyterian minister, but I found that academia would be much better suited to my life, beliefs and passions and branched into the Asian Religions concentration. I chose E-town for a variety of reasons. First of all, I knew as soon as I got out of the car for my first visit to the campus that I liked where I was and that I wanted to be there. Second, the school—and my intended program, specifically—offered a lot of freedom in what I could study.
I always have been passionate about traditions and cultures that are beyond the ones I have inherited, so being able to study concentrate in Eastern Traditions was very appealing. Additional perks included the affordability (the financial aid department was helpful in putting together a package that made attending possible without sinking me in debt), the opportunity to study abroad and the opportunity to wrestle for the College for four years.
Tell us, briefly, how your Elizabethtown education/experience prepared you for your career.
Presently, I am a student. Thus, very simply, my time at Elizabethtown College helped to further focus and develop my mind and skills so I might continue to perform in an academic setting and continue to pursue higher education. Dr. Jeffery Long helped expand and deepen my knowledge and understanding of the traditions of India, where I studied abroad in my senior year, and which continues to be the focus of my studies. I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in the field shortly after graduating from Naropa. Additionally, it was during my time in India that I certified as a yoga instructor, turning a passion of mine into a much loved source of income.
What is the most memorable academic or co/extracurricular achievement during your time at Elizabethtown?
I wrestled for four years at Elizabethtown College, but I was never very good. Coach Eric Walker, however, never let me give up and, even more importantly, never gave up on me. I was in the wrestling room everyday--twice a day if time allowed--and came in early and stayed late; but, as surely as I would lose the weight I needed to for competition, I would lose my matches. It wasn't until my junior year that everything came together for me, and I caught my first (and only) victory. I am no stranger to hard work and perseverance, but I do not think there is anything I have ever worked so hard and so long for in my life. It is an achievement I will never forget, an accomplishment for which I will always thank Eric Walker and the other coaches, and a sensation that has no parallel.
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?
I am working toward a life in higher academia, hoping to share the knowledge I have accrued and the comprehension with which I have been blessed with others who may not have had the same exposure to things as I have. I am regularly engaged by family members, friends, classmates, coworkers and even strangers with questions about my area of expertise, something I truly love to talk about.