I am currently a theological librarian for the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) in Chicago. ATLA is compromised of member organizations such as universities and seminaries, Naropa being one of them. ATLA is active in the religious studies field, as well as the information science and library field, merging both to offer member and clients a database that covers the major traditions. My job consists of reading theological scholarly journals for the main content points of the paper and then assigning subject headings, as well entering any other pertinent data related to the article. Additionally, I evaluate other or new journals for inclusion to the database.
The main attraction to Naropa for me was the uniqueness of the classes like meditation I-IV along with the experiential approach to learning. Along with knowing the concepts intellectually, I believe I know the material at a deeper level because of the contemplative and experiential learning approach.
Among many highlights to choose from, the following two stand out most prominently: chanting before and during the closing of LoJong class with Lama Tenpa. During the same class we had several visitors, one of them was a Lama that leads three-year retreats and hearing him give a dharma talk was personally enriching.
One thing I would tell those interested in the program is to be ready to change. Before applying to Naropa in the summer of 2011, I was working in the Honors College in Florida International University (FIU) with Dr. Nathan Katz, a previous faculty member of Naropa in the '70s. When I decided to apply to Naropa, I asked him for advice without knowing he had worked there. He told me, “It’s a practice-based university, so if you’re not ready to grow both intellectually and spiritually, then it might not be for you. It is not traditional and yes, there will be meditation, sitting on the floor and some unorthodox methods of learning. But it is worth it if that’s appealing to you.” Having now experienced Naropa, I completely agree with Dr. Katz.
I have the job I have today because of Naropa. Although I have a separate degree in Library and Information Science, the main reason I am working at ATLA today is because I have intimate knowledge of Buddhism and Hinduism. I specialize in these fields in my current job and use my education daily. My knowledge of Sanskrit has come into play, as well as by having the ability to read and understand Buddhist terms in Sanskrit. Both of these skills enhance my ability to assign proper heading and keywords so that current Naropa students can find applicable articles using proper Buddhist headings.
Naropa has given me new lens in which to see the world. I have found that contemplation has taken precedence in my life. Through compassion and reflection, Naropa has opened my eyes to small daily things I previoulsy took for granted.