Scholars & Staff

“In the Spirit of St. Vincent DePaul and embedded in the Four Ways of Dialogue at DePaul University, DePaul Interfaith Scholars create a culture that fosters interreligious dialogue and promotes multicultural awareness and a rich, lively, diverse faith life at DePaul. They are leaders grounded in their own traditions who create a strong community of DePaul interfaith-engaged students who work together on mutual understanding and shared social action.”

Interfaith Scholars 2016-2017

Justine Carlson


Roman Catholic

Hi everyone! My name is Justine Carlson and I am the Roman Catholic Interfaith Scholar this year. I am a junior, majoring in Early Childhood Education with ESL/Bilingual endorsements and minoring in Catholic Studies. I am also the current president of DePaul Students for Life.

Answering the question, “What does Interfaith mean to me?” Interfaith is not only about having dialogue with different religions, but working together with people from all backgrounds to create positive change that our world desperately needs. I grew up in a household where my mom was Catholic and my dad was Lutheran. While I was raised specifically Roman Catholic, I soon discovered there were similarities and differences between these two branches of Christianity. In the Roman Catholic tradition, once one makes their confirmation they officially become an adult in the church. I made it a priority to take hold of my faith at a young age, while demonstrating acceptance and love towards other religions, because I knew this was something I was called to do. Within my faith tradition, I was always taught to love everyone for who they are, even if they are different from yourself. It wasn’t until I came to DePaul that I realized this. I hope to instill interfaith dialogue and promote mutual love, respect, and dignity in my future classroom.

Katie Hoffman



Shalom! I’m Katie and I am the Jewish interfaith scholar for the 2016-17 year. Judaism is important to me because when coming to learn more about my religion and culture it helped me to learn about myself and how to better understand the world around me. Judaism specifically, helped me to feel as if I belonged to something. Judaism helped to define resilience as a human being and gave me a ‘road-map’ to starting to understand the world around me and others and their respective cultures as well.

Currently, I am a fourth-year student graduating this spring with dual degrees in cognitive neuropsychology and French with minors in Islamic World Studies, Studio Art and Biology. I hope to go on to pursue graduate-level degrees in occupational therapy and hope to travel and work across the world in the field of art and occupational therapy. I love exploring new places, community service, and creating art.


Sandra Odigo


Non-Denominational Chrisitan

Hi all! My name is Omosinivie Sandra Odigo, I am a senior her at DePaul University studying Finance and Accounting with a minor in Management. As an international student, diversity is something I advocate. Coming for a country which has just three religions (Christianity, Islam and witchery). I wasn’t exposed to a lot of diversity when it comes to religion, but I was always open to a bigger picture through books. I grew up in a catholic home, but always call myself a non-denominational Christian. To me, Interfaith creates a life-changing visualization of an inter-religious cooperation in America. Being able to learn how to express my identity without suffocating that of others who are different than I am. I loved every moment of being a part of a diverse crowd filled with more passion, positivism and commitment to the common good than I have ever seen before. The beauty of the Interfaith is that it gives me a chance to see that though my initiatives may seem small right now, I am part of a large, energetic, and dauntless movement. In a word, it gives me faith in what it’s doing. The Interfaith is a great way for me to explore the diversity present in this world through an inclusive lens. I enjoyed meeting other students with similar passions, yet all coming from different backgrounds.

Kunza Shakil



I am a third year student at DePaul University majoring in International Studies and Spanish with a minor in Islamic World Studies. Alongside being an interfaith scholar, I am the junior year student representative for the International Studies department and the president of Global Learning Overseas By Experience (GLOBE).

Having grown up in a suburban area that is less diverse than the Chicago community and the DePaul student body more specifically, I would often find myself discussing faith and spiritual ideas among different religious affiliations. Before college I understood Islam as a characteristic that set me apart from my peers and those around me. When I discussed Islam I usually felt like the odd one out. Starting college has exposed me to the broader Muslim community and allowed me to have better, intellectual conversations about faith and spirituality. If I was learning this much from within my community I wondered how much insight I could gain from students and peers of other spiritual identities. Interfaith to me means a unity among different communities through the connection of the self and an understanding and acceptance of a higher power.


Benji Shelfer



Benji is a junior (or Jewnior) at DePaul studying communication and media. He is a proud Jew, and seeker of diverse religious perspectives. Benji is also a musician who looks to subtly reference themes of faith within his own music. He is excited to share his passion of music, as well as further the conversation of what it means to be a faith-based millennial.

Meet the Staff

Matthew Charnay


Jewish Student Life Coordinator
Lincoln Park Campus – Student Center, 340
773-325-8650 –

Matthew Charnay joined the DePaul University Ministry family in April 2012 as DePaul’s first Jewish Student Life Coordinator. Matthew is passionate about Jewish education and interfaith engagement. Originally from Oklahoma, Matthew began his teaching career at Temple B’nai Israel in Oklahoma City and received his BFA from the University of Central Oklahoma with a focus in theater arts. He is currently finishing His Masters Degree in Jewish Professional studies at the Spertus Institute and continues to teach at Temple Sholom here in Chicago. Matthew has been an educator for over 13 years, teaching for Sunday school, Hebrew School, Bar & Bat Mitzvah training, summer camp counseling and youth group leadership. Matthew is thrilled to be a part of the DePaul Ministry department and is looking forward to continuing his love for Jewish education and interfaith work with the help of everyone here at DePaul.

Please feel free to drop in the DePaul Jewish Life Center located in room 340 of the Depaul Student Center anytime! SHALOM!!!!

Katie Brick

Director of Office of Religious Diversity
Lincoln Park Campus – Student Center, 311E
773.325.2272 –

Katie Brick has worked in Religious Diversity at DePaul since 2005 and currently serves as Director of ORD. Past DePaul experience includes being Assistant Director and serving as a Loop Chaplain. Katie has led the DePaul Interfaith Scholars program and is passionate about interfaith engagement, including the Quarterly Interreligious Celebrations program.

Prior to joining DePaul, Katie’s diverse work experience included marketing, organizational development consulting, non-profit social services, and hospital chaplaincy. She received a B.A. in history and an MBA from Northwestern University, and an M.Div. degree from Catholic Theological Union. She lives on the North side near a park that is great for family fun.

Interfaith Scholars 2016-2017

Justine Carlson, Katie Hofman,  Sandra Odigo, Kunza Shakil, Benji Shefler

Interfaith Scholars 2015-2016

Melanie Kulatilake, Shourouk Abdalla, Nicolette Prociuk, Elijah Obasanya, Olivia Hollman

Interfaith Scholars 2014-2015

Olivia Hollman, Joel Gitskin, Julian Hayda, Emeri Flowers, Nicholas Stanley, Mel Kulatilake, Samreen Ahmed

Interfaith Scholars 2013-2014

Lubna Hussain, Enass Zayed, Nicholas Stanley, Kamieshia Graves, Thano Prokos, Madeleine Tick

Interfaith Scholars 2012-2013

Caelin NIehoff, Dana Jabri, Josh Graber, Mac Mullins, Laura E. Mena, Leah Karchmer, Webster Vital, Penelope D. Antonopoulos.

Interfaith Scholars 2011-2012

Matthew Casey, Omar Tawil, Patricia Hudson, Jordan Kelly, Caelin Niehoff, Micheal Evers, Peter Dziedzic, Momena Billah

Interfaith Scholars 2010-2011

Nic Cable, Bridget Liddell, Michael Evers, Mohammad Yassin, Emma CushmanWood, Matthew Casey, Christina Ferrari.

Interfaith Scholars 2009-2010

Nic Cable, Bridget Liddell, Michael Evers, Ellen Romer, Adlil Issakoo, Meagan Dible, David Ellis, Summar Othman

Interfaith Scholars 2008-2009

Aara Johnson, Hafsa Arain, Garrett Seelinger, Ali Al-Sarraf, Zachary Lynn, Meagan Dible, Maria Javiera Ortega Reszczynski

Interfaith Scholars 2007-2008

Abder-Rahman Ali, Ali al-Sarraf, Faustine Wolcott, Garrett Seelinger, Hafsa Arain, Sadeq al-Tloa

Interfaith Scholars 2006-2007

Garrett Seelinger, TJ Bigbee, Usra Ghazi


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