Bellarmine News

Beyond the Bluff: Ralph Craig ’18

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Seniors at Loyola Marymount University have been preparing for life after LMU all year. In our Beyond the Bluff series, liberal arts seniors reflect on their post-graduate next steps and the experiences that shaped their career plans.

Ralph Craig ’18
Major: Theology
Next Step: Ph.D. in Religious Studies at Stanford University

After growing up in New Orleans, Florida, and Massachusetts, Ralph Craig moved to New York City to attend Eugene Lang College. Due to financial hardship, he made the very difficult decision to put his college career on hold. He spent a period of time in Berlin, Germany before returning to New York where he began to seriously explore his spiritual interests. His investigations into Sanskrit, Ashtanga Yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism eventually brought him to Los Angeles in 2013, where he crossed paths with Theology Professor Christopher Chapple later in 2014. Chapple encouraged Craig to apply to LMU, and by 2017 he was enrolled as a theology student.

“I decided to study theology because I believe in the intrinsic relevance of religious inquiry and the search for ultimate meaning. Further, I believe in its value in contemporary society,” says Craig.

While at LMU, Craig has focused his study and coursework on Buddhist theology. Specifically, the liturgical practices of early Mahayana Buddhism. He credits his liberal arts and Jesuit education for inspiring him to seek deeper truths and never settle for easy answers.

“This commitment to critical inquiry was crucial in my search for a Ph.D. program, and I believe it came through in my applications,” says Craig.

In addition to applying to the Master of Theological Studies program at Harvard Divinity School, Craig also applied to the Ph.D. programs in Religion at both Harvard and Princeton; the Ph.D. program in South Asian Studies at UPenn; and the Ph.D. program in Religious Studies at Stanford University. He believes Stanford will be the best place for him to continue his studies in the history of early Mahayana Buddhism, and he looks forward to furthering his education and contributing to society through theological discourse.

“I hope to make an impact as a theologian by demonstrating that the doctrines and practices of Mahayana Buddhism have much to offer global conversations on creating a better world.”