Major: Theological Studies
M.A.: Theological Studies
Next Step: Immersion in Japan to live, teach, and explore local religious communities.
It wasn’t until his junior year at LMU that Shayne Yano ’19 changed his major from electrical engineering to theological studies in the LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. “I knew it would be a less straight-forward path than the engineering degree I originally planned on when I first arrived at LMU, but ultimately it proved to be the more meaningful path for me to take,” says Yano.
Feeling that his studies in theology were enriching his life and widening his perspectives of his self and others, Yano decided to stay at LMU and pursue a master’s degree: “Having only spent a year and a half officially as a theological studies major, I had a strong desire to continue my studies and felt that I was only just at the beginning of my theological journey.” He enrolled in the three-year graduate program and is set to graduate in 2022.
Yano has focused his graduate studies on examining Japanese religious traditions in Japan and America. He is particularly interested in expanding representation of marginalized Christian traditions that have emerged in these communities, with the view of challenging typical Western notions of Christianity and widening religious understanding. His thesis project, Hidden Christians and Non-Churches: Indigenized Christian Practices in Japan, hopes to “give voice and authority to … traditions which have found themselves on the margins of society.”
In his graduate program, Yano has also been able to develop professionally. “As a grad student at LMU,” he says, “I have had the honor of working as a graduate assistant (GA) and RAINS research assistant.” Yano worked as a graduate theological studies GA since entering the program, helping to run administrative tasks, social media, and event coordination. He also worked as Professor Daniel Smith-Christopher’s RAINS assistant in his final two years. “These employment and research opportunities have been central to my time in the program by expanding my professional skills, deepening my academic studies, and opening up friendships that have enriched my life,” Yano reflects.
Engaging with the religious traditions of Japan has inspired Yano to continue to pursue his passion. With the encouragement of mentors like Professor Matthew Petrusek, Professor Smith-Christopher, and Professor Eric Haruki Swanson, Yano has decided to move to Japan next year to experience first-hand the cultures he has studied so fervently. He explains, “My goal is to immerse myself as much as I can in the culture and practices of local communities and learn directly from their experiences.” Yano is waiting for responses to several employment opportunities in Japan, including teaching English. “After a combined seven years at LMU and living my whole life in Southern California,” he says, “I am looking forward to starting a new adventure in Japan.”
Asked about what advice he has for current LMU undergrads and graduate students, Yano says, “Make the most of your time here. Attend that lecture you hear about that sparks your curiosity. Mingle with your classmates at a social gathering organized by your department or GSLMU.” When it comes time to graduate and look back on your experience, he advises, “it is the things you didn’t do that you will regret more than the things you said ‘yes’ to.”