Natalie Benson

University of Indianapolis

From her first day on campus through her senior year, no student has embodied the initiative and drive for civic engagement and improvement better than Natalie Benson. A proven leader, her combination of inquisitiveness and purpose has made her a shining example of the type of civic-minded student we strive to inspire. Natalie arrived at the University of Indianapolis already having broken down barriers, working with her church's congregation to reinforce outreach programs. At UIndy, Natalie has continued to be a trailblazing influencer. She immediately got involved with our Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Programs as a student leader, working tirelessly with faculty and fellow students to develop programming that promotes mutual understanding and respect between religious and non-religious groups. She co-founded a new student organization, "Better Together Interfaith," a student-run group committed to strengthening interfaith service, dialogue and literacy at the University. Her work extended into the Indianapolis community, creating city-wide interfaith programs to address the need for more collaboration in championing unity across a diverse landscape. Natalie's efforts contributed to an increase of campus interfaith leaders by 150-percent -- and her coaching and mentoring work with those new leaders make her uniquely suited to be a Newman Civic Fellow.

Dr. Robert Manuel
University President
University of Indianapolis

Personal Statement

Through interfaith work, I connect strategy with the needs of key constituents. I create events designed to support these individuals, communities, and groups. This leadership, which leads with respect and mutual understanding, is a core component of community engagement. It offers a framework to address the pressing and polarizing social issues of our time. After underrepresented students expressed a desire for connection and campus support, but did not know how or where, I was inspired to co-found "Better Together Interfaith." Through creation of a panel of representatives from a variety of student groups, community service events, and peaceful responses to acts of hate in our country, we fostered a space for collaboration. My experiences in the Interfaith Youth Core Coach Program served as another useful model that I applied to my campus leadership. I worked with a diverse group of students to coach upcoming interfaith leaders. A key part of that success involved training these leaders to lead with appreciative knowledge, aim to lift the voices of underrepresented student groups and approach campus decision-making with consideration and respect. This approach has the potential to inform, inspire, and call the public to action in ways that manifest into lasting, positive change.

Natalie Benson
Applied Psychology major with a concentration in Human Services and Religion major with a concentration in Pre-Theology: Class of 2019
written 2019

2019 Fellows Alphabetical by Institution

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Sarah Lutes, UNC Asheville Seda Sahin, Univeristy of Connecticut Bernardo Villarreal Rodríguez, Universidad de Monterrey Elizabeth Paige, University of Baltimore Itzel Velazquez, University of Central Arkansas Jordan Borenstein, University of Central Florida Hunter Caudillo, University of Central Oklahoma Delali Nenonene, University of Dayton April Singleton, University of Delaware Amanda Wittebort, University of Denver Mikaela Lopez, University of Houston-Downtown Nicolas Robledo, University of Illinois at Chicago Natalie Benson, University of Indianapolis Jocelyn Roof, University of Iowa Kaitlyn Frick, University of Kentucky Dyamond Gray, University of La Verne Sarah Nichols, University of Maine at Augusta Maheen Haq, University of Maryland, Baltimore County Madison LaCure, University of Massachusetts - Boston Marvens Pierre, University of Massachusetts Amherst Elizabeth Anusauskas, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Twisha Mohapatra, University of Massachusetts Lowell Shravya Jasti, University of Miami Jalen Rose, University of Michigan-Dearborn Robert Harper, University of Minnesota Danielle Friz, University of Missouri - St. Louis Daisy Ward, University of Montana Adrianna Pittman, University of Montana Western Lizbeth Perez Hernandez, University of Nebraska Omaha Kaitlin Griffin, University of New Hampshire Joyce Yao, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Yesika Sorto Andino, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Adriana Zarate, University of North Georgia Hector Robledo, University of North Texas at Dallas Malaika Michel-Fuller, University of Northern Colorado Sashay Carroll, University of Northern Iowa Carson Ball, University of Oklahoma Carter Gale, University of Pennsylvania John Farris, University of Redlands Mary-Kate McGeary, University of Rhode Island Lina Tori Jan, University of Richmond Nina Schneider, University of San DIego Nyteia Tyler, University of San Francisco Karen Padilla, University of South Carolina Beaufort Danica Leaphart, University of South Carolina, Columbia Andrew Spencer, University of St. Thomas Shaneika Bowra, University of the District of Columbia Livia Karoui, University of the South Jordyn Gaurkee, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay Emiliana Lopez, University of Wisconsin - Madison Zach Atkins, University of Wisconsin - Parkside Madison Hale, University of Wisconsin-Superior
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