International and Interfaith Icon Visits Aquinas College

Story by Chucky Blackmore, News Editor
Photo courtesy of 


Courtesy of The Charlotte Observer

Oftentimes we think about the things that make us different from one another as humans.  Sometimes those differences create divisions among people, and other times, those differences can bring us closer together.  A portion of Aquinas College’s mission states that  it is “an inclusive educational community rooted in the Catholic and Dominican tradition, provid[ing] a liberal arts education with a global perspective,” celebrating the educational experiences of Catholics and non-Catholics alike through open-minded learning.  

The Aquinas community strives to make diversity come to life on campus through more than just written words though.  On Thursday, October 8, students, faculty, and staff alike are encouraged to attend the presentation of Eboo Patel, an international interfaith icon.  Patel’s mission involves creating leadership through interfaith, believing that religious and nonreligious identities can coexist as, what he calls, “a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division.”  Patel, who is the Founder and President of Youth Core, has spoken about his mission to college students nationwide.

Interfaith Youth Core is a Chicago-based national nonprofit organization working to engage faith and philosophical diversity in the 21st century.  It all started from Patel’s own unique experience.  He is of Indian heritage, identifies as Muslim, and is a proud American citizen.  He attended Oxford University where he obtained a doctorate in the sociology of religion; during that time in college, Patel became interested in multiculturalism and multiple identities, which he noticed did not involve religious identity.  By talking to college students Patel witnesses the bridge of interfaith cooperation growing everyday.  

Patel’s achievements during college have landed him success in recent years.  He served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council in 2011, where he partnered with White House officials to make interfaith cooperation a priority on campuses nationwide.  In addition, Patel has written two books about his passion in regards to interfaith cooperation: Acts of Faith and Sacred Ground.  The TED conference, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, and the Clinton Global Initiative have platformed Patel as a speaker with a vision.  

Sponsored by the Aquinas College President’s Office and Student Senate, Eboo Patel’s interfaith presentation will take place at the Performing Arts Center at 3 p.m. on Thursday, October 8.  Free tickets are available to AQ students, faculty, and staff (with an Aquinas I.D. card present) at The Moose during your class senators’ respective office hours.  The Campus Life team is also willing to help students get tickets to the event as well.  Following the presentation will be a reception held at the Brookby Estate from 4:30-5:30 p.m. for invited student leaders to meet Patel in person.

Although Patel’s presentation will be sponsored by the President’s Office and Student Senate, the efforts of other on-campus departments like Campus Life and Campus Ministry are making it all possible.  This event will not be one to miss.  Eboo Patel is a living example of what Aquinas’ mission statement represents.  Patel will engage students in dialogue, allowing them to accept the backgrounds of themselves and their peers.

About the Writer…

Chucky Blackmore, News EditorChucky Blackmore is a senior studying English and Education, with a minor in ESL. Other than being The Saint’s News Editor, Chucky is also a Resident Assistant in Hruby Hall and plays lead guitar in Grand Rapids based band, Velcrofibs.

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