Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, I graduated in May 2013 from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where I majored in Culture and Politics in the School of Foreign Service. In the fall of 2013, I moved to Amman, Jordan, where I am living for nine months while conducting research through the State Department’s Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
At Georgetown, my academic and extra-curricular activities focused on interreligious dialogue, specifically between Christians and Muslims. I received a certificate from the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and served as the president of the Interfaith Student Council. Thanks to my engagement with the Muslim community, and the strong Catholic nightly Mass community at Georgetown, my once-dwindling Catholic faith was renewed. My passion for dialogue—and desire to use writing and the media as a medium for forging better understanding—was sharpened through internship experiences with the communications department of an Islamic advocacy organization; the interreligious affairs office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; and a research fellowship with Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, surveying Catholic bookstores in Washington, D.C.
My experiences at Brebeuf Jesuit, my high school in Indianapolis, and my years reporting for Y-Press, a youth media organization in Indianapolis, were the foundation for my interest in dialogue and storytelling. A World Religions class set me on a track of spiritual exploration and experiences interviewing everyone from Burmese refugees to then-Senator Barack Obama helped me discover my own
voice—and the responsibility I had to use my voice to speak out for those whose voices are marginalized.
During my junior year of high school, a hateful and Islamophobic email forwarded from a family friend became the impetus for me to work towards better understanding between people of faith (and no faith.) In order to foster a better understanding of Islam and Muslims in the West, I foresee a career in writing, advocacy, and pastoral work facilitating interreligious engagement and dialogue.
My curiosity about the media’s role in shaping perceptions about the religious Other drives my Fulbright research. During the 2013-2014 school year, I am examining the portrayal of Islam in Arabic-language Christian television channels and the impact of this messaging on Muslim-Christian relations in Jordan. This research will not only involve watching these channels, but also interviewing scholars, religious leaders, and ordinary Jordanian Christians about their perceptions of interreligious coexistence in Jordan.
My parents are Maggie, a parent educator, and Tom, the president of Young & Laramore advertising agency. My younger brother, Nick, is a sophomore at Boston College where he is a Presidential Scholar, a math major, and varsity cross-country and track runner.
My boyfriend, Chris Duffner, is a first year law student at the Georgetown University Law Center. His time spent engaging with undocumented migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border (and closer to his home on the East coast) motivates him to pursue a field of law in which he can work with and represent vulnerable and marginalized populations. Chris and I began dating during the December of our senior year at Georgetown, having both found a home in the Catholic community. Having initially connected during theology class study sessions and conversations about our own spiritual journeys, we hope to pursue eventual graduate degrees in theology or divinity.
I’ve published articles in America magazine, the Washington Post’s On Faith blog, Ignatian Spirituality’s People for Others blog, and the Indianapolis Star. For the next few months, I will be blogging for the lay Catholic magazine, Commonweal. My efforts to improve Muslim-Christian relations have been featured on an interview with American Catholic Radio and the Georgetown University website. I have presented about my journey into Islam and back into Catholicism at the 2012 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice and at the Center for Interfaith Cooperation in Indianapolis.