Georgetown Recognized at President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge Event

July 13, 2012

To mark the first year of the President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, students and staff from Georgetown University and the Berkley Center participated in national gathering of administration officials and university presidents, faculty, and staff at Howard University, July 9-10, 2012, and spoke about the university’s interfaith activities.

Aamir Hussain (C ’14) represented Georgetown on a panel alongside Mara VanderSlice Kelly, deputy director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Sidney Ribeau, president, Howard University; Wendy Spencer, CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service; Martha Kanter, undersecretary, U.S. Department of Education; Eboo Patel, founder, Interfaith Youth Core; and Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, director, Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, U.S. Department of Education. Students from the University of Illinois, Howard University, Tennessee Tech, and the U.S. Air Force Academy also took part in the discussion.

"Participating in the White House Interfaith Challenge has been an affirmation of my personal values, as an American, a Muslim, and as a Georgetown student,” said Hussain. “I’ve gained a deeper respect for American diversity, Georgetown’s Jesuit heritage, and my Muslim culture by working with other faith and non-faith communities on campus."

During the year-end event, Georgetown was recognized for being a leader in interfaith service work, and for the numerous impactful activities held on campus and in the community, including the Georgetown/Syracuse can drive. The drive collected hundreds of pounds of food for the needy, while raising awareness about hunger and poverty issues as two erstwhile basketball rivals put aside their differences to work together in the common cause of interfaith service.

Melody Fox Ahmed, assistant director at the Berkley Center led the Georgetown delegation, which also included Kieran Halloran (SFS ‘14), Mary Grace Reich (SFS ’13), and Jordan Denari (SFS ’13). The group attended sessions that discussed best practices for mobilizing communities to use interfaith work to have a positive impact on disaster relief services, economic opportunity, education, human trafficking, and environmental stewardship.

“Through the President’s Challenge, Georgetown continues to build upon a long tradition of commitment to interfaith dialogue, service and community involvement,” explained Fox Ahmed. “With a focus on education and poverty alleviation in the greater Washington area, thousands of students participated in service activities and active interfaith reflection during the year. This work is an intrinsic part of our campus identity and our individual faith and ethical commitments as ‘men and women for others’.”

President Obama issued the Interfaith and Community Service Challenge in 2011. Over 250 campuses participated during the first year. In June, the White House announced plans to continue the Challenge during the upcoming school year. Georgetown has committed to participate in year two of the Challenge and is planning a full year's worth of programming and events.

To get involved, email

Read the first year report submitted to the White House and watch a video on Georgetown's participation in the Challenge here.

Watch Georgetown student/Berkley Center research assistant Aamir Hussain's speech at the plenary session here.