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Students find community, home through on-campus religious organizations

USC is home to many religious or faith-based organizations. 

Some focus on discipleship and authenticity, while others highlight a sense of belonging and inclusivity. But across these organizations, members shared that their group has given them a way to find community at USC.

The Catholic Campus Ministry

Fourth-year mechanical engineering student Erin Callahan is the president of USC's Catholic Campus Ministry.

She has been a member for three years. Callahan was on the student leadership team for the last two years and has only been the president for one year. The ministry has helped her improve herself and become the person she wants to be, she said.

"(The ministry) pulled me out of a bad place my freshman year and ... rebuilt me to be someone that ... I'm proud of," Callahan said.  

The ministry is part of the St. Thomas More Catholic Church and Newman Center, and its mission is to let people know about the love of God and to help them with the discipleship of Jesus Christ. 

The ministry's activities include Sunday suppers, weekday mass and adoration, Bible studies, service events and more.

Callahan said she appreciates the community that St. Thomas More offers and that she has made some of her best friends there.

"These are people who have seen me at my best, and they've seen me at my worst, and they've loved me through it," Callahan said. "It's been in a place in which we were able to be authentic with each other. We knew we were safe around each other, so we were able to connect at a deeper level."

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Her faith has helped her outlook on life by making her realize what's important in life, Callahan said.

She said students should dive into and explore their faith to have a better understanding of these beliefs.

"I love just the access to all the sacraments that we have," Callahan said. "The fact that I'm able to go into a place where I am able to sit in the physical presence of a God who created me ... knows who I am and loves me."

Muslim Students Association

Another religious organization on campus is the Muslim Students Association. The group's is to promote interactions and diversity of Muslim students.

The organization holds Islamic events, including Ramadan from March 10 to April 8. It will celebrate Ramadan with a potluck Iftar and biweekly check-ins with Muslim students to see how they are doing during the holiday, said Muhammad Hassan Tahir, a graduate electrical engineering student and the co-president of the Muslim Students Association.

Tahir has been a member of the association for about a year. 

He said that when he first came to USC in fall 2022, he felt that he was alone in practicing his faith until he was introduced to MSA. 

"I learned that there are people who are going through the same things that I am going through," Tahir said. "Once in a week, we usually sit together, discuss how the studies are going and how we are practicing Islam while staying in America, staying at USC."

He said the sense of belonging and the importance of Muslim students celebrating the events that they would normally have in their home countries.

“It doesn’t matter where you belong ... ethnically. If you’re a Muslim, you are welcome to break fast with us or you’re welcome to join us,” Tahir said. “All of the people from different cultures sit together … and discuss what they are going through.”

Hillel Foundation

Hillel Foundation is one of three Jewish organizations on campus. Its goal is to so they can help out other Jewish people and the world. 

The events it holds include Shabbat dinners, the Daffodil Project and more. 

Shabbat starts Friday night at sundown until Saturday at sundown. For the Shabbat dinners, members of Hillel have a potluck or catered meal, while gathering together.

For the Daffodil Project, members go to the Anne Frank Center at least once a year, plant daffodils in the lawns and pray, thinking about how they can help the community by not being afraid of who they are as a religion and as a group, said Seth Miller, a third-year finance and sport and entertainment management student. 

Miller has been part of Hillel for three years and first spoke with the president of the organization during his senior year of high school.

“(I) kind of got acclimated and introduced to what Թϱ Hillel has to offer,” Miller said. “I really fell in love with what they offer and what they believe in and how it fits my beliefs as well.”

He said that he has made some of his best friends at Hillel and that it is accepting because they want to welcome people to the organization. 

“(Hillel) allows for kind of a bonding and a kind of safety net of sorts to be like, ‘Hey, you have a group of people that you can relate to,’” Miller said. “Having a safety net or a group of people that you can go to and hang with and bond with, it allows for a much more natural self of one ... you don’t have to hide who you are and what you believe in.”

For more information about these clubs and other religious organizations on campus, visit .


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