Magazine Feature / People

Graduate student to unite faiths, tackle societal ills

While Tim Brauhn’s memories of Sunday school have become a bit hazy over the years, the 25-year-old graduate student from Franklin Grove, Ill., clearly remembers the Biblical parables that emphasized love-thy-neighbor morals.

For the past year Brauhn — who graduates June 5 with a master’s degree in international studies — has volunteered his time, working as the fundraising coordinator for the 1010 Project, a faith-motivated humanitarian organization based in Denver.

In August, Brauhn will begin training for an eight-month-long fellowship, running from October to May, with the Tony Blair Foundation and Interfaith Youth Core.

Founded by Britain’s former prime minister, the Tony Blair Foundation aims to promote inter-religious dialogue and understanding across all faiths around the world. The foundation hopes to utilize the goodwill fostered through such discourse to address societal ills. The Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core promotes a similar agenda focused on religious youth.

“I’m inspired by the capacity of people of faith to attack society’s problems from a very deep, personal level,” says Brauhn. “There’s a whole reservoir of energy you can tap into there.”

Brauhn beat out about 500 applicants, from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, to secure one of 30 available Faiths Act Fellowships.

“Tim has an idealistic enthusiasm for this work because he truly believes interfaith cooperation has untapped potential,” says Joey Shapiro, program assistant for the Faiths Act Fellowship.

As a fellow, Brauhn will be working to further the Tony Blair Foundation’s current goal, the eradication of malaria, by engaging individuals of faith in the United States to contribute to the cause. For part of their training, Brauhn and the other Faiths Act fellows will visit Africa to witness the effects of malaria firsthand and bring those stories back to First World audiences.

“He has the background, a good grasp of how people on the other side of the globe live, and the spirit of cooperation to be successful in that capacity,” says Nader Hashemi, assistant professor of international studies.

Upon completion of the fellowship, Brauhn, who was raised a Roman Catholic, plans to continue doing interfaith work, international development or find something that incorporates both his interests like the Faiths Act Fellowship has.

“Whether it’s the story of the Good Samaritan or Jesus healing the sick, those are the parts of my faith that give me something to aspire to, and my work with the Faiths Act Fellowship allows me to live out those values on a global stage,” he says.

For more information or to watch streaming video of DU’s commencement ceremony, please visit DU’s commencement Web site.

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