Grants and Awards – Why Not?

Written by: Robert Revington
Religious Studies ’15

Sometimes, it’s easy to feel guilty when you take advantage of an Experiential Education opportunity. You ask: is this right? That’s because with some Experiential Education offerings, your university is giving you money to do things that are so enjoyable that they do not seem like school! Student Experience Grants enabled me to travel through the United States and England in consecutive years for academic conferences. Obviously, I got to learn a lot from an academic perspective, but I also got to see a lot of cool places and learn a lot about the world–for these were my first trips outside of Canada alone.

For my first Student Experience Grant, in November 2013 I traveled to a biblical studies conference in Baltimore. It was fascinating to see how professors could take things from popular culture–like Star Wars–and make them the basis for a lesson about an ancient text.

Then, in December 2014, I got to travel to Oxford, England to present at a conference. At this conference, I learned about a variety of topics in religious studies.

I was also fortunate enough to receive two Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRAs) in religious studies. In 2013—when I completed my first Undergraduate Student Research Award—I would have described the experience as the best job I had ever had. But the second time, I could not in good conscience make that same claim. The reason is quite simple: when you enjoy your work as much as I did on this USRA, it seems like a contradiction in terms to call it a “job.” It was too much fun for that! My research involved one topic in biblical studies, and another related to the author C.S. Lewis. Both times (but particularly the second) I found that I was getting paid to read books about things I would want to read and learn about anyway. In any event, the most useful thing about the USRA was that it helped me develop individual research skills that will be even more valuable at the MA level (and possibly beyond).

If you like traveling to cool places and studying topics you’re already interested in, why would you not apply for either a USRA or a Student Experience Grant?

(Long pause.)

Exactly. There’s no reason not to!