Aaron Estes graduated from IU Bloomington in May 2014 with a B.A. in Religious Studies. He spoke with Emily Vetne, founder of the IU History Undergraduate Student Association, with a major in History and minor in Religious Studies.
Emily: What made you choose Religious Studies for your major?
Aaron: I chose religious studies in the summer between freshman and sophomore year. I was living in Bloomington that summer with my buddy, Charlie, and we decided to take a Buddhism course together. It was what we both needed, because we always argued about religious topics without ever having any real background. This was not when I decided to major in the subject, but it is where it all started. As I was taking courses, I was really enjoying all the professors I was working with, and that's why I wanted to major in it.
Emily: What is something you learned from the department that you still use in almost daily life? What do you apply to your career in traffic control?
Aaron: I started reading the Bhagavad-Gita religiously after I learned about it. I took what I learned in the department and devoted myself that text. I don’t read that text as a scholar but as a devotee. Studying texts like The Art of War with Professor Stalnaker prepared me for my career. The strategies in this text are timeless and war is everywhere.
Emily: What are some of your favorite memories of the Religious Studies department? Any good stories you can tell me?
Aaron: The first paper I wrote was for my Intro to Buddhism class, and it was so bad that I have erased most of it from my memory. But I concluded with something like, “Winnie The Pooh is like Buddha because all he needs are his honey and his friends.” That’s actually a better thesis then what I wrote. But after that, I wrote another paper in my Existentialism class with professor Levene and I said that Blaise Pascal was an atheist (which is not true. You can go to Wikipedia and figure that one out). She gave me a D on that paper, which was kind of my wake up call. I wrote good papers for her after that. Her class was where I fell in love with the thinker Soren Kierkegaard.
I recommend taking an entry level class with Professor Haberman because his very first lecture was very memorable. It's amazing. I don't want to spoil it.
Emily: Do you have any advice for current RS majors? Any final words?
Aaron: My only advice is that if you want to go higher with your education, you need to be focused and driven and really love what you’re studying.