The Interfaith Center seeks to equip and empower students, staff, faculty, and the institution as a whole, to engage more comfortably and competently with spirituality and religion. As you explore our space, programs, workshops and other resources, please do not hesitate to contact us if we might be able to provide any other information or support that would be helpful.
Rev. Laura C. Engelken, Director of Interfaith Education & Engagement
Rev. Laura is an ordained minister and student affairs professional with over 20 years of experience in higher education and pastoral settings. In her work, Laura seeks to equip and empower individuals and institutions to identify, explore and critically reflect upon the ways they and others make meaning of their life and world to build more just and sustainable communities.
Her theological training comes from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California where she earned a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Multifaith Understanding and Engagement. Laura has provided interfaith leadership in campus and hospital settings, as well as served as a congregational minister and outdoor ministries director.
Prior to her degree and work in ministry, Laura earned a Master of Higher Education & Student Affairs Administration from The University of Vermont and worked in residential life, health promotion and academic advising at the University of California at Santa Cruz, as well as served as a multicultural educator and consultant.
Laura's writings include:
- More than Survival (2020) Interfaith America. Interfaith Youth Core.
- It's all about fugu: Discussing spirituality and religion on campus (2001). Developments 9(4). ACPA - College Student Educators International.
- Making Meaning: Providing Tools for an Integrated Identity in R.L. Sanlo (Ed.) Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender College Students: A Handbook for Faculty and Administrators. Greenwood Press (1998).
Email Rev. Laura
Ali Mahmood, Coordinator of Leadership Development and Program
Ali Mahmood is the Coordinator of Leadership Development and Program at the Interfaith Center (IC). Ali joined IC in July 2022 and previously worked at the Allegheny College staff/faculty for Film and Religion Department. Ali received his M.A in Islamic and Leadership from Claremont School of Theology/Bayan Islamic Graduate School in California.
Ali was born in India and lived in three different countries, Australia, UAE, and India. He moved to the USA as an undergraduate student in Acting from Film from the New York Film Academy. After spending 6 years as an actor in various theater and film production in Los Angeles and Pittsburg Ali went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Islamic Studies and Leadership from Claremont School of Theology/Bayan Islamic Graduate School in California. With a Certificate in Sustainability and Environmental Protection from UCLA Extension, he focused his research on Ecology and Theology. His thesis paper, “Abrahamic Storytelling can Encourage Environmental Activism,” explore the idea of how the three Abrahamic faith tradition’s stories can cultivate ecological preservation and environmental activism.
Menuka Rai, Office/Program Generalist
Menuka Rai is the Office/Program Generalist for the Interfaith Center(IC) as well as Mosaic Center for Students of Color(MCSC), it is a collaborative between two center. She started her position at IC and MCSC in July 2022 and she is looking forward to support both centers through administrative tasks & projects.
Menuka was born and raised in Nepal, and in 2014, her family emigrated to The United States. She attended high school then university in Burlington, Vermont. She recently graduated with class of 2022 from University of Vermont with bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Food Science. Due to her background as a first gen college grad, POC and UVM alumna, she is eager to connect & provide resources to students to the best of her abillity.
Takudzwa Bozhiwa, Graduate Assistant
Takudzwa (he/him) is the 2023-2024 Graduate Assistant for the Interfaith Center. He is passionate about helping peopleand creating positive environments for others to flourish and be their best versions.
During his spare time, he enjoys going to the gym, playing music (acoustic), fishing, reading, and watching soccer.
Interfaith Center Attendants
Interfaith Center Attendents provide a welcoming presence and assistance to all visitors while overseeing the evening activities at the Interfaith Center. If you are workstudy eligible for the 2022-23 school year and are interested in joining our team, please email Rev. Laura for more information.
The Interfaith Center offers undergraduate students a for-credit, semester-long internship to explore what it means to support spirituality and religion on campus. It's an opportunity to develop programming, marketing, interfaith leadership, and group facilitation skills. The typical load is three credits (8-10 hours per week) as interns receive academic credit by enrolling in an online course designed to complement their internship experience (i.e., AS 190). Find out more details about the intership here and contact Rev. Laura if you are interested in applying and/or learning more.
vailable to students enrolled in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration master's program (HESA), this semester-long practicum is an opportunity to understand and articulate the importance of engaging spirituality and religion in higher education, particularly at a public institution. This aspect of student affairs involves student identity development as well as equity and social justice by pursuing a more just, pluralistic campus community. Practicum students will increase their religious literacy and other competencies as they assist in developing and implementing knowledge, skill and relational development opportunities for students, staff and faculty.