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Brigid Burke ’94

Posted in: Alumni Profiles

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Brigid Burke 1994 – Majors: Religious Studies; English
M.L.S., Rutgers University; M.A. in Religion and Society, Drew University D.Litt. in Literary Studies/Myth, Drew University (anticipated Dec. 2016)
Associate University Librarian for Technical Services, Fairleigh Dickinson University Adjunct Professor at Montclair State: Religion; Classics & General Humanities

Why did you choose to study Religion – and why at Montclair State?
I started Montclair State as an Honors student majoring in English. In sophomore year, I took Intro to Religion to fulfill my General Education requirement. I had always been interested in both religion and philosophy, but this class was a catalyst. I became passionately interested in the subject and made Religious Studies my second major. Montclair is one of the few schools in New Jersey to offer a Religion degree that doesn’t have a theological bent, and for me, that was ideal.

Which courses and/or professors did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed all my classes, but Dr. Steve Johnson’s were my favorites: Religion and Culture, Religion and Psychology. I still use examples from his classes when I teach. I also enjoyed Dr. Kokuma’s World Religions course, Dr. Benfield’s Modern Philosophy, Dr. Garrett for Philosophies of Art, and of course Metaphysics with Dr. Bridges. Each of them had their own style: Dr. Benfield took us on a journey of thought. Dr. Bridges could be comical. Dr. Garrett was extremely well organized. I have to say, though, it was Dr. Johnson’s approach that really resonated with me and my interests.

What are you doing now, and how has your study of Religion helped you in your “life after Montclair State”?
I graduated from Montclair State in 1994, with one semester abroad (which I highly recommend), and went to Rutgers to earn my master’s in Library Science. A year later I decided to go further and went back to Drew University for my master’s in Religion and Society. I’ve worked as a librarian for almost 21 years and have taught at Montclair State since 2008, in both Religion and General Humanities. My focus has switched to mythology and comparative religion, and I am currently finishing my doctorate in Literary Studies at Drew, with a focus on Myth and Psychology.

The connection between Religious Studies and my career is a pretty easy one—I’ve managed to take an academic interest and weave it into my working life. I am the buyer of Religion books and other materials at FDU. Teaching allows me to stay directly involved in the material, which is also part of my leisure life. The Religion program at Montclair State started me on a path that is rare these days—an “authentic” one. Many people have a job they hate and side interests they love. I’ve been able to do what I love in both my work and my free time. I try to teach that to my students: Everyone should be able to spend their days loving their work.