For some, religious life has been the heart of Dartmouth

by Elliot Olshansky | 6/9/02 5:00am

In the eyes of many, one of the greatest benefits of time spent in college is that it can serve as a source of direction for young people as they prepare to go out into the world. As the members of the Dartmouth class of 2002 prepare to leave the College, they will travel in many different directions. For some, the direction their lives will take has been deeply influenced by the religious aspect of their lives at Dartmouth.

For some graduating seniors, the connection between religious life at Dartmouth and the future is readily apparent. When asked about the role religion has played in her life at Dartmouth, Nicole Leiser '02 was quick to cite her work with Dartmouth Hillel as a major influence in her life.

"My involvement with Hillel and the Jewish community at Dartmouth has significantly affected my life in college," Leiser said. "In addition to spending a lot of time planning and participating in activities with the Jewish community, I have taught Sunday School at the Upper Valley Jewish Community, worked at a synagogue in Bethlehem, N.H., and worked at the Pavilion.

"I've become more involved in religion in college than I was in high school," she said.

Leiser hopes to attend school to become a rabbi "sometime in the near future."

For others, religion does not figure directly into their future plans, but they are quick to acknowledge the major role that religion has played in their Dartmouth lives. For Rachel Ciprotti '02, who hopes to work for a book publishing firm in Boston, involvement in Aquinas House has had a profound influence on her Dartmouth life.

For Ciprotti, who was confirmed as a Catholic her freshman year at Dartmouth, there have been benefits beyond the religion itself.

"Through AQ, I have met many of my dearest friends," she said. "I don't know what college would have been like without AQ."

Likewise, Yousuf Haque '02, former president of the Muslim student association Al-Nur, sees the indirect influence of God in his future plans. Haque, who plans to begin working for a Cleveland-based business consulting firm, sees that job as "just another platform for developing my character traits."

Haque sees the connection between his work and his faith "in terms of taking advantage of those opportunities that God has made available to me."

For Leyla Kamalick '02, who will be teaching at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., next year, her Episcopalian faith has a similar role.

"Teaching is not the most financially rewarding job, but my ministry over the years has taught me that there are more fulfilling things than money and I can trust that the money will work out eventually," she said.

Kamalick described her experiences with Edgerton House, the Episcopal student center at Dartmouth, as having had an important influence on her Dartmouth experience.

"The Edge was my strength when I started and my rest at the end," she said. "Dartmouth wouldn't have been the same without it."

Riley Lochridge '02, who will remain at Dartmouth to pursue a master of science degree, summarized the role of religious life at Dartmouth through his own experience with the Navigators, a campus Christian group. For Lochridge, working with the interdenominational ministry on campus "has allowed me to meet many people who share a similar outlook."

As for the future, Lochridge said his religion inspires him to do his best at whatever he is doing.

"The continued path in education provides me a way to continue to work and grow academically in a capacity I choose," he said.

For Mike Sevi '02, a Jewish student who is going to Jerusalem to live in a Yeshiva, or College, the next year holds a combination of educational and spiritual learning.

"A Yeshiva is basically [a college] where a rabbi is trained," Sevi explained, though he emphasized that this was not his calling. While Sevi is taking a year off to study Hebrew, the Torah and the Talmud, he plans to attend law school the year after.

He said he wants to develop the "critical thinking skills that Jewish people have honed for centuries."