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Students Attend Interfaith Leadership Meeting

UCR Students Attend Interfaith Leadership Meeting

Two undergraduates return from Washington, D.C., training with plans to advance interfaith collaboration and research on campus and in the community.

(November 3, 2010)

Samantha WilsonEnlarge

Samantha Wilson

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Two undergraduate students and a staff member from UC Riverside have returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where they attended the first meeting of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) “Better Together” campaign. The campaign is a national leadership initiative for college and university students, staff and faculty to engage their campuses and local communities in interfaith cooperation, dialogue and service.

The three-day event, held Oct. 22-26, was co-hosted by the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In two sessions hosted by IFYC and the White House, 64 college and universities were represented from all 50 states. Participants were competitively accepted from a nationwide applicant pool.

Representing UC Riverside were Danielle Dempsey, a senior from Santa Rosa majoring in religious studies and Spanish; Yuriko Rodriguez, a senior from Tustin majoring in religious studies and sociology; and staff member Samantha Wilson, a 2009 UCR graduate who now serves as coordinator of Undergraduate Research in the Community (UGRC) in the Office of Undergraduate Education.

Dempsey and Rodriguez responded to the call for applications because of their interest in pursuing the study of religions. Working with Wilson and UGRC, the students plan to bring interested community and campus partners together for a dialogue on the future of interfaith collaboration and research at UCR and in Riverside. Dempsey and Rodriguez said they will use their new skills and knowledge to organize events, projects or opportunities for more students of different religious traditions and non-religious backgrounds to engage in service.

Wilson said she was “particularly interested in this opportunity for its potential to unite assets in our local community. There is incredible synergy between the interests of community partners, students, faculty and campus resources for peace-making and interfaith work in Riverside. The skills, knowledge and networks generated by this institute will be one more tool for Riverside and UCR as students, faculty and community members move forward on interfaith and peace-making research and service.”

June O'Connor, a professor of religious studies at UCR, said she was excited by the initiative of the three UCR delegates.

“I’m delighted that the students have taken the opportunity to attend,” she said. “In this pluralistic culture, the more we understand the religious horizons from which we come the more likely we can work together. Mostly I’m pleased with Samantha’s initiative to make this available to students and the students’ initiative to take advantage of it – initiative is a great thing.”

The Interfaith Youth Core is an international organization in Chicago, Illinois that builds mutual understanding and pluralism among young people of different religious traditions by empowering them to work together to serve others. The founder and executive director of IFYC, Eboo Patel, serves on the Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Danielle Dempsey (left) and Yuriko Rodriguez attended the interfaith leadership meeting in Washington, D.C.Enlarge

Danielle Dempsey (left) and Yuriko Rodriguez attended the interfaith leadership meeting in Washington, D.C.



The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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