On Being Religious

Caroline S., M1

WashU’s immense diversity is an asset in many ways — it’s exciting, challenging, inspiring, enlightening— but it can also be intimidating. You’d think that religion would only make this diversity more complicated, especially since religious life at WashU is more vibrant than one might expect. Religious diversity does contribute to the complexity of different perspectives here, but it creates more connections than it does divisions. I’m Jewish, and have therefore been able to grow closer to other Jewish medical students who attend High Holy Day services or plan Hanukkah parties with me. I’ve also met Jewish students from other graduate schools at Rosh Hashana dinner, and I often seek advice from my interviewer after my friends and I spent Shabbat dinner with him and his wife. Beyond my Judaism, however, being religious at WashU has allowed me to connect to people of different faiths who are thinking about similar religious questions. As a class, we are experiencing many “firsts” together: our first clinical experience, our first nearly-failed anatomy exam, and our first human cadaver. Being Jewish, and talking with my friends about what their religion means to them, has helped me to process these “firsts” and find meaning in them. Being religious has not distracted from the larger medical school community that I am a part of, or from the medical science that I am learning. It has enriched it.