Third year physics major Connor Hetzel sat at a table in Maag Library sipping his coffee and wearing a Boardman tennis sweatshirt. At first glance he seems like a normal college student, just trying to get through his day with his coffee by his side.
But while most college students are wondering if they’ll get a job in their field of study, Connor already knows that he will be taking another path.
“I’m planning on only using my major as a hobby of sorts. I am planning on pursuing theology when I graduate from here. I am a Roman Catholic, so I will be entering the seminary,” he said.
Connor said that he did some studying of religion in high school, but that he realizes entering the seminary will be a completely different type of studying for him.
“It’ll be a culture shock that I’m ready for,” he said.
As for his love of physics, Connor mentioned that it’s something that comes easily to him.
“In high school and previous, sciences and mathematics just came very naturally, very intuitively to me. I understood them, and I was able to tell that I had a gift with it that I could perceive that not everyone had,” he said. “I wanted to do something with it that would both challenge and excite me. As I took more courses, I just found a love of the material, a love of the challenges that the professors put before us.”
Connor said that he sees a “beautiful harmony” between science and religion, a place where some see conflict.
“My understanding of science deepens my level of faith, and I see a necessity for divine inspiration — not in a way that many describe as contradictory to science, but in a way that is, ‘How could this be spontaneous chance?’ Everything around us working to an exact perfection beyond what we could ever come up with, and it just furthers my faith,” he said.
Connor said that he hopes that his alternate career path will allow him some free time that he can devote to “self learning,” where he will spend his time involved in theoretical research. Some aspects of theoretical research that he hopes to explore are Einstein’s unified field theory and gravity.
“It wasn’t even that I didn’t want to pursue physics as a career,” he said. “It was that I realized I had a calling that superseded a calling to physics. With the help of some very good friends of mine, they helped me realized that I have certain gifts that call me to the ministry that call me to be a leader in the Roman Catholic church.”