Caroline Hamilton said that since coming to TCU, her spirituality has expanded and helped teach her new ways to connect with God while learning different ways of understanding what it means to be a person of faith.
Hamilton, a senior religion major, said she found it challenging at first to keep her religious traditions the same when coming to college, but now is back in her routine.
“In my history, it was always get up Sunday morning and go to church with the family and that was what my faith was, but when I came to college, that changed and it was hard to get back into that routine,” she said. “I had spent pretty much an entire semester, each week going to a different church until I found one that really felt like home to me.”
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education article “How Spiritual Traits Enhance Students’ Lives 8212; and Maybe Their Grades,” during college, students attend religious services less often but become more spiritual.
Angela Kaufman, minister to the university, said she sees a diversity of patterns among college students when they arrive at TCU, though no one can attribute any broad brushstrokes or any generalities to spirituality.
“I see students who come to college and who intentionally take this as a time to stop focusing on their spiritual life or their faith life,” she said. “Partly because before it was so intertwined with that of their families that college becomes a time for them to hit the pause button and either, I would say unfortunately, ignore [their spirituality] altogether or just ask questions.”
Some students will follow the pattern of whatever pattern of growth they were involved with spiritually in their high school years, she said.
“If they were very active, they will find a church locally here and continue to be active,” Kaufman said. “Or if they weren’t, they’ll stagnate along.”
Hamilton said her spirituality has helped her foster positive relationships and helps the way she relates to people she comes in contact with on a daily basis.
“I find myself doing things that are a lot more productive and I find myself being nicer to people and just trying to make a difference in the world more when I am intentionally living my faith and trying to grow in my spiritual life,” Hamilton said. “It helps me stay rooted and helps me focus and not freak out about the craziness that is college.”
Kristen Byrd, a junior fashion merchandising major, has had a different experience from that of Hamilton since coming to TCU.
In high school Byrd was close with her youth group and enjoyed going to church and events that her youth group helped plan, she said. When she got to college, she found it hard to find a church that compared to the one she attended back home.
She tried going to a variety of churches in the Fort Worth area and also attempted to go to different religious organizations on campus, Byrd said.
“Personally I think that they [the religious organizations] are a little too in your face,” Byrd said. “It makes me feel like I am a bad person.”
With all the organizations on campus encouraging people to go to their services, Byrd feels attacked, she said.
Senior religion major Alex Cutler said coming to the university has given him an endless capacity to expand his knowledge in understanding his own personal beliefs.
“I’ve become more spiritual since coming to college in that I haven’t let my spirituality be defined by any one organized religion,” he said.
Sophomore psychology major Teri Henderson said TCU has given her the opportunity to learn about different religions and pull things from each one to shape her own faith.
“I’ve definitely evolved as an individual in my spirituality, and it’s grown with me,” Henderson said.
Jacob Hofmeister, associate chaplain of Interfaith Community & Spiritual Life, said that’s what the Interfaith Community was all about.
“One of the things we try to do is provide opportunities for [students] to explore or at least learn about other religions and meet people from other religions and dialogue about those because the world is such a diverse place spiritually and religiously,” he said. “We want to create opportunities for them to learn about different religions.”
The Interfaith Community held Coexist on campus last Wednesday for students to showcase different religions and show unity and support for each other.
“Here at TCU we’re going to try and use people’s beliefs and faiths to come together and make TCU better,” Hofmeister said.
The event allowed students to visit different stations that represented different religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Secular Humanism, with activities to participate in at each station.
Students were able to sign a pledge to coexist with different religions and worldviews on campus, he said.
“The pledge is here to sign to say, “Hey, I’m open to listening and respecting people’s beliefs and faiths, and even more than just respecting them, I’m going to work with them and engage the world with them to make it a better place,'” he said.
Staff reporter Lizzie Ferguson contributed to this report.