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Online student returns from studying in Israel to earn degree in religious studies

Kaitlyn Dalton

Kaitlyn Dalton will be graduating this semester with her bachelor’s degree in religion, culture and public life from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

November 29, 2021

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.

Before attending Arizona State University, Kaitlyn Dalton was enrolled in a small, private liberal arts college near her hometown of Richmond, Virginia. She didn’t intend to study religious studies, but after walking into a required introduction to religions course, she fell in love with the discipline. 

Dalton was given the opportunity to spend two weeks in Israel through that school in 2018. 

“I walked away having many unanswered questions, but I did know for certain I would return to Israel to study again,” Dalton said. 

After taking a short break from school due to health reasons, Dalton decided she needed a program that would allow her to work full-time while studying and enrolled in ASU Online. She began her courses in 2019. 

“Since then, I fulfilled my promise to myself about returning to Israel,” Dalton said. “With the help from ASU scholarships such as the Steve and Margaret Forster Memorial Scholarship and Norton and Ramsey Religious Study in Israel Scholarship, I spent most of this year studying at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.”

Dalton participated in an internship with the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, took courses from leading scholars and met people from around the world who had the same passions she did.

She will be graduating summa cum laude and as a member of Theta Alpha Kappa, the national honor society for religious studies and theology, this semester with her bachelor’s degree in religion, culture and public life from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

Answer: During my time at ASU, I have been genuinely surprised by how engaged the professors are with online students. My biggest concern with transferring was connecting with faculty. The religious studies faculty at ASU has been impeccable. I have been able to connect with various professors, whether for coursework-related questions or advice. I gained confidence in my ability to succeed with their encouragement and feedback. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school? 

A: My piece of advice for students would be to pursue the field that excites you, challenges you and motivates you to move forward. Your undergraduate career may not look like what you imagined at first, but it is possible to create your own path that is even more enriching than you could have dreamed.

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: Honestly, one of the things I love about the online programs is how flexible I can be about where I study. As long as I have an internet connection and coffee, I am ready to go.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am currently in the process of applying to graduate school programs in interfaith dialogue and diplomacy. I hope to pursue my master's and later, a career in the intersection of intergovernmental organizations and interreligious dialogue with a focus on peacemaking.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Wow, I cannot even fathom $40 million dollars. I would like to create an international task force designed to engage with faith leaders around the world at the same table, with special consideration for diversity and inclusion. 

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