Roanoke senior explores interfaith issues as student coach for national group

by rcnewsblog on June 18, 2013

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Tyler Coles has a passion for bringing people together, regardless of their faith or religious beliefs. He will learn how to put his passion to work this summer.

Coles, a senior at Roanoke College, has been selected by the Interfaith Youth Core to serve as a student coach this summer. The IFYC is an organization that focuses on building a solid bond between people of various faiths and religions.

This week, Coles is in Chicago for the first part of training with the youth core. In late August, he will train other college students in New York City who are involved with the IFYC.

Eboo Patel, founder of the IFYC, believes that college students are the perfect leaders to send such an important message. Patel visited Roanoke in February to discuss the importance of people being open minded to all beliefs and religions.

Coles, a Roanoke native, has always had an interest in multiracial affairs. His family is biracial, and he is actively involved in Roanoke’s Multicultural Affairs program as a senior student coordinator.

He plans to take his passion a step farther by helping to spread the word of community togetherness through the IFYC.

This training program encourages students to become involved in philanthropy work as a community, putting aside cultural backgrounds and working together.

IFYC members attend charity events and lend their services to those who are less fortunate.

Coles hopes to bring these IFYC principles back to Roanoke to help expand and increase the productivity of the Multicultural Affairs program on campus.

“I think a lot of the ideas stem from the fact that religious extremism is becoming more and more prevalent,” said Coles, regarding the message of the IFYC. “We see a lot of people are having to pick the extreme side of a conversation out of fear and out of ignorance by not knowing about other people’s faith or religions. That’s one of the unique things about the Interfaith Youth Core. It’s teaching people how to have all these interfaith conversations and backing it with a social justice. You serve your community and become inspired by yours and others religious or nonreligious traditions”

Coles is a history major at Roanoke, with a minor in religion. He recently won an award on behalf of the Roanoke College Office of Multicultural Affairs for his outstanding student leadership in increasing diversity here on campus.

In the future, he hopes to get his master’s degree in divinity and social work. He wants to have a career in multicultural affairs and work with interfaith programs throughout the country.

-By Kaci Frick ’15

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