Stephanie Raby-Reeger, Student of the Semester: Fall 2016Stephanie Raby-Reeger is honored to be the recipient of the Student of the Fall 2016 Semester award. She does not often think of herself as a leader, but is honored to have left a positive impression on fellow students and faculty.

Raby-Reeger is terminally hopeful that our world will know a time when humanity can peacefully coexist, and is also deeply aware that it is in the friction between knowledge and ignorance that people are able to demand accountability of character in order to stimulate positive change. It is from this foundation that she has found herself desiring to study humanity in all of its expressions. As both an anthropology and religious studies major, in her first junior semester she is working towards being a bridge-builder. In this capacity, she is hopeful to help others to understand each other, as many scholars strive to do.

As she developed her undergraduate education agenda, she realized that no study is truly complete without religion. Even though she does not currently identify with any specific religion, religion has profoundly influenced her life. It is in everything we do, ingrained in how we thinkwhether we like it or not. For many, it is a solemn responsibility; for others, a source of pain and suffering, or a source of healing and rejuvenation.

As a member of the Dean's Student Advisory Council, representing the student body of the Religious Studies Department, Raby-Reeger is hopeful that she can encourage prospective IUP students to join the Religious Studies Department in building these many bridges. We are living during a time when these bridges are needednow possibly more than ever. As Nelson Mandela once put it, "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his[/her/their] skin, or his[/her/their] background, or his[/her/their] religion. People must learn to hate, and, if they learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."