Abbey O’Leary ’24
Trinity College’s campus has become a diverse environment in which students have worked to build a community and express themselves through collaboration and the founding of various organizations. Faith Inspired Students at Trinity, commonly known as FIST, is now recognized as Faith Inspired on campus and is a nondenominational Christian student organization focused on fellowship and discipleship. Focused primarily on building a sense of community and fellowship through Bible studies, disciple studies and prayer, Faith Inspired has sought to create a space in which all students from any denomination and at any point in their religious journey are welcome. The organization emphasizes group discussion to gain new understandings and interpretations of the Bible in an effort to strengthen faith and find inspiration.
Faith Inspired has recently undergone a re-branding initiative. When the organization was recognized as FIST, it was symbolized with a fist itself. This insignia was used in the organization’s marketing across campus. Over the past few years, the club has received questions regarding its purpose and initiative, and found that the fist insignia seemed to lead to confusion regarding the focus and message of the group. Faith Inspired is now led by co-presidents Sharon Sango, Class of 2025, and Cassidy Sylvia Willie-Lawes, Class of 2024. And, in a conversation with Sharon Sango, she emphasized the importance and significance of a logo and the impressions a logo makes on the student body community. After receiving multiple questions and comments about the meaning behind the original fist insignia, Sango and Willie-Lawes decided that a re-branding was necessary in order to convey the focus and values of the organization as well as to define the group’s connection to Christianity. Through this initiative, Sango and Willie-Lawes hope to further exemplify the organization’s identity as a faith inspired collective group. To Sango and Willie-Lawes, as well as the organization in general, being “faith inspired” reveals a bigger personal connection, drive and internal guide. Thus, the group wanted their re-branding efforts and marketing to better depict the values of the organization and reflect the group’s central question: what inspires you?
During the conversation with Sango, she recalled her personal experience coming to Faith Inspired as a first year at Trinity. Originally from Zimbabwe, Sango came to Trinity College and hoped to find a place on campus where she would be able to connect with and strengthen her faith during her time on campus. She also wanted to find a group of Christian students and like-minded peers who would support her faith and encourage her beliefs. Remembering her first experiences as a member of Faith Inspired, Sango said that the organization is “a place to build fellowship” and that she found such a strong community with the fellow members, she decided to become more involved and join the executive board as a second semester first year as the First Year Representative and has continued to work on the board since. She has moved from First Year Representative to Intersister, in which position she led prayer services, to Secretary, responsible for organizational management, and
then finally to co-President. She articulated the fact that as a leader of the organization, Faith Inspired does not act as a sort of pastor. Rather, the group is focused on personal growth and connection through building a connection and relationship with the Christian faith based purely on the study of the Bible.
Having spent three years with the organization and having taken on extensive leadership roles, Sango spoke about the importance of the organization to her personally and the impact it has had on her time thus far as a student at Trinity. She said that she has found a great support network through the group and loves how collaborative the group has been. When asked the central focus of the organization and how the organization’s goals are accomplished, Sango said that the central focus is finding faith and inspiration while fostering community support. Because the organization is nondenominational, there are students with various backgrounds and experiences that contribute to the group. She emphasized this quality of the group as well as the level of support and education this diversity brings. “We learn different things,” Sango said, and interpret these different things through different stories in the Bible. She stated, “Everyone is contributing and we are seeing where everyone is and everyone can share what they are going through and everyone can learn from one another.” According to Sango, being a part of the organization is about discovering one’s intimacy with God and answering the questions: “How do I talk to God? How does God speak to me? How does God love me? What is it that I want to do with my faith? Have I discovered my faith?”
In the upcoming semester, Sango said that she hopes for the organization to get to a point where fellowship is the primary priority and the group becomes even more connected with one another. She also said that they hope to increase membership and expand the network to new students who might need the help of the organization and who might need to be inspired. She encourages new students and interested members to join the club. Sango emphasized that as a nondenominational organization, all are welcome. She said that the club wants to celebrate its members and incorporate all backgrounds and levels of faith. She hopes to strengthen the community and wished new members to “come as they are.” Sango and Willie-Lawes host coffee chats for any new and interested members who want to further discover their faith, find inspiration and discuss their goals and intentions. She also emphasized the fact that since Faith Inspired has re-branded and is focusing this semester on launching a series based on building a personal relationship with God, the group will be hosting individual prayer sessions in addition to their group discussions and prayer sessions on Thursday evenings in Hamlin Hall. Faith Inspired will soon open its registration sheet and will be hosting meetings regularly which will be open to all interested students.