The Director of UNF’s Interfaith Center Tarah Trueblood plays a vital role in planning and overseeing all of the events and programs that the center has to offer.
Trueblood said she has three main focuses for UNF’s Interfaith Center: Helping students develop in their spiritual journey as holistic individuals, helping students become religiously literate by allowing students to collaborate and work across religious differences, and helping the campus become more pluralistic by encouraging students to understand differences and similarities between individuals of the student body.
“So often we don’t realize where our values and ideology come from, but yet it’s a framework that we operate off of automatically,” she said. “It’s underneath the surface. Getting students to talk about what’s underneath and to do it in a way that is informative and curious rather than threatening is important for student development. Students must understand how diverse our democracy is, and how to be responsible global citizens.”
Trueblood hasn’t always been a Florida resident. Before making the move to UNF, Trueblood studied law at the University of Nebraska for roughly 10 years.
She said her knowledge in law enabled her to educate students about the whole aspect of the legal system and how government and our private lives interact with each other on a daily basis.
That same concept of real human interaction made Trueblood interested in different religions.
“All religions have common truths, and yet all of the religions come about things from different angles,” she said. “Studying those angles enriches my own life. It’s kind of a selfish thing for me to want to learn and be enriched by other traditions, and I want that for other people as well.”
After studying law, Trueblood worked at the Interfaith Center at the University of California at Berkeley to help bring together students from different religions and ideological frameworks.
Trueblood said the unique demographic California offers and the astounding level of diversity helped further her interest in different religions.
After seven years at Berkeley’s Interfaith Center, Trueblood began looking for a job on the East Coast so she could live in the same timezone as her family. She stumbled upon the open position of Interfaith Center director at UNF on a national college job board.
She began working at UNF’s Interfaith Center in late 2011 and has been helping students become united by breaking down religious barriers and celebrating their differences ever since.
Trueblood said the most effective way to plan events for students is to have students involved in the planning. She strongly encourages students to come up with ideas for their own clubs and organizations.
Hana Ashchi, a student worker at the Interfaith Center and a communication major, said it has been a joy working alongside Trueblood because she’s so enthusiastic and cares about helping students make the most of their college experience.
Ashchi said Trueblood has taught her that going to college and being involved in organizations such as the Interfaith Center is important.
Trueblood seems to find a way to relate everything to diversity, even the popular television show with which she shares a name.
“I love the show True Blood,” she said. “I think the show is actually about diversity. It’s about including people from different backgrounds and overcoming some of our fear.”
Trueblood said she was even thinking about offering a class called The Gospel of True Blood, where students would analyze an episode and discuss the ideological frameworks behind it.
Email Blake Middleton at firstname.lastname@example.org