Lindsay Trice (C’09) knows what jumps to most people’s minds when they hear that she was a theology major at Georgetown.
“People ask, ‘Why did you study theology? Did you want to become a priest?’”
But Trice isn’t working for the Catholic church, or for a university’s theology department — in fact, she even identifies more as “spiritual” than “religious.” She’s a product manager at the highly successful data analysis software firm Palantir Technologies, splitting her time between New York, Palo Alto and Washington, D.C. And while it might seem an odd fit, she credits her theology classes at Georgetown for getting her where she is today.
Trice arrived at the College in 2005 intending to study Russian. But after a semester in the first-year Liberal Arts Seminar program, which involved intensive coursework in philosophy and theology, she began to consider a new course of study.
“I found the readings, papers, and discussions that came out of that class to be what I wanted more of,” Trice said.”
After examining the different offerings in the course catalog, Trice chose to pursue a theology major and government minor. She became certain she was on the right track after taking classes with Professors Frederick Ruf and Ariel Glucklich.
“Those classes were what I would categorize as a turning point,” she said. “They tended to attract a group of students who were really interested in going deep on questions of how people react to situations, and how backgrounds color how they think of the world. It wasn’t necessarily religion, it was how people look at the world.”
It was that realization — that students of theology could develop a keener sense of other people’s perspectives — that helped Trice see how her academic interest could be a real advantage beyond the classroom. She explored classes in Hinduism and Islam, eventually choosing to study abroad in Turkey — a decision she says she wouldn’t have made without her theology background.
While she took mostly political science classes during her time in Istanbul, learning in a majority-Muslim classroom helped her further develop an appreciation for the important role of religious traditions.
After graduation, Trice returned to Turkey for nonprofit work for two years, putting her education at the intersection of Islam and government to good use. A lifelong fascination with the practical application of technology to solve problems brought her back to the United States, where she has worked at a number of technology companies — most recently Palantir, where she serves as a product manager.
Trice credits her theology courses not only with providing an enjoyable undergraduate experience, but also with teaching her how to think in ways that have been immensely helpful in her professional career.
“A degree in something that makes you consider how people think the way they do, how they see the world – that’s a skill I use every day,” she said.
— Patrick Curran