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‘I want to be in school forever’: Maggie Rogers graduates from Harvard Divinity

Maggie Rogers.Evan Agostini/Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Singer-songwriter and Grammy Award-nominee Maggie Rogers has another accolade: Harvard Divinity School graduate.

Rogers on Thursday graduated with a Master of Religion and Public Life degree, a program designed for experienced professionals who want to broaden their knowledge of the complex ways religion influences public life in their career areas, according to the program website.

Rogers was one of 11 people to graduate from the Cambridge program in its inaugural year, according to an article about Rogers published by Harvard Divinity School.

During her time in the year-long program, Rogers studied the spirituality of public gatherings and the ethics of power in pop culture. Her course work included “Spiritual Paths to Abstract Art,” “Modern Psychedelic Spiritualities In Historical Context,” and “Buddhist Narrative and Story Literature,” among other classes, the school said.


“I was thinking about this world in which people are moving further and further away from traditional religion, but yet are seeking to be connected to both something bigger than oneself and to each other,” Rogers told HDS. “Whatever I was learning in class would immediately get put into practice in my professional world. It felt really integrated. The MRPL enhanced my work and vice versa.”

The “Light On” singer talked about her recent performance at the Coachella music festival in California, and how her work at Harvard influenced it.

“I brought everything I was learning into the details of that performance, some of which people will never see,” Rogers told HDS, adding that the performance itself fulfilled a public presentation graduation requirement.

“From the way I collaboratively worked to design the stage layout, the stage production, the set list, the clothing, the way we came off the stage, the way we rehearsed. At the end of the day — creativity and spirituality — it’s about the process. Every layer, all of it, at the end of the day, is about intention.”


Shortly after her Coachella performance, Rogers shared an image of what appears to be her thesis paper titled “Surrender” — the same name as her upcoming album, set to be released July 29.

Rogers told Harvard Divinity that she decided to enroll in the school after relocating to the Maine coast at the start of the pandemic. She had recently wrapped up months of touring and performing, and when COVID-19 struck, she spent time “reflecting on music, her structure around music, and her responsibility to her audience.”

“I wanted to create a structure that could last me a lifetime in a moment where I was dealing with an immense amount of burnout and friction between what I actually wanted to do and the box I felt my career had put me in,” Rogers told HDS. “I found that in my career, even though my training in life is as a musician, I was constantly put in this sort of nontraditional ministerial position where I was being asked for moral and spiritual guidance even though that wasn’t the job I signed up to do.”

Rogers said she believes people connect to culture and to each other most through social media, but that “puts a lot of emphasis and power in the hands of people who are artists,” she told the school. “A lot of what I studied was how we come together, looking at religion and theology, and thinking largely about what are the ways in which we connect to each other, how is that done in a way that can be an agent for peace, what does it mean to hold that power, and what is the responsibility one has.”


As part of the end-of-year commencement festivities, Rogers performed at HDS’s annual Multireligious Commencement Service at Memorial Church, where she performed the song “Over the Rainbow.” Other graduating students also offered performances, prayers, and readings.

Rogers told the school she feels “deeply indebted to my brilliant classmates,” adding that the work of the community at HDS “requires deep emotional engagement.”

“I’ve met so many people who have permanently changed the way that I see and think about the world, and who have pushed me in my own thinking in ways that were both comfortable and uncomfortable. I want to be in school forever. There’s so much to learn about the world and so much I feel like I’m just waking up to,” Rogers told the school.

Rogers could not immediately be reached for comment, and the university told the Globe Rogers was not available for an interview at this time.

Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.