Senior Maddy Tevonian poses for a photo in the Wriston Art Center.
Senior Maddy Tevonian, seen here in Wriston Art Center, has studied in India and Nepal. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Maddy Tevonian, a senior religious studies and art history double major, has spent her four years at Lawrence University seeking knowledge across disciplines. She is now preparing a capstone analyzing Buddhist art through the lens of religious studies and movement theory and is working toward an honors thesis. 

Tevonian, of Wilmette, Illinois, has always been fascinated by religion. From Greek mythology stories told in third grade to medieval Christianity, she knew early on that religious studies was a field she was drawn to.

"Everyone has an opinion on religion, whether they believe in one or not; it's so universal,” Tevonian said. 

That fueled a passion for wanting to study abroad, a key objective when she came to Lawrence.

“I had about 10 different countries I wanted to go visit,” Tevonian said. 

Eventually, Tevonian narrowed down plans for her first trip abroad. She went to India, where she participated in a Buddhist Studies program through Carleton Global Engagement. She lived in a rural pilgrimage town with 25 classmates, studying how art is used in the religious practices of a northern India ethnic group.  

This experience inspired Tevonian to study abroad again, this time in Nepal in a language summer intensive program, studying Tibetan. The trip would contribute to her capstone project, which she is now working to turn into an honors thesis with a slightly different focus. 

"The capstone had more of an art history focus,” she said. “Now I'm focusing in on the religious studies to present before the Honors Committee." 

Study religious traditions from world religions, with courses that encourage critical thinking while fostering an understanding of diverse viewpoints. 

Art history explores visual traditions that span history and circle the globe.

While at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Nepal, Tevonian studied at the school founded by Tibetan leader Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche. The trip was funded by the Helen Barr Rudin Language grant, the Harrison Award via the Harrison Symposium, and the Chandler Senior Experience Fund, allowing her to immerse herself in the Tibetan language.  

Her project was focused on the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, a Buddhist monument. She studied the monument and how people interacted with it, relating to the broader theme of how religious monuments and artwork intertwine in the everyday lives of people.  

Tevonian's passion for connecting to community is evident at Lawrence through her involvement with numerous clubs and student organizations. She serves as the co-captain of the frisbee team at Lawrence and the vice president of the Recess Club, both student-led organizations. She also is in the LU Rock Climbers Club and the Outdoor Recreation Club and is always finding ways to be outdoors. She appreciates interacting with nature and encouraging others to do so as well. 

With over 40 off-campus programs, your studies can take you from Chicago to Shanghai!

After Lawrence, Tevonian will take a gap year and apply to grad school programs for religious studies. She will continue her work and research in Buddhist studies, showing how religion manifests itself in everyday life.  

"I love talking to people and experiencing religion in daily life," she said.