Three weeks ago, I submitted final grades for the January (J-Term) course that I taught at East Moline Correctional Center (EMCC) through the Augustana Prison Education Program (APEP). I created the course, “Redemption, Reconciliation, and Restorative Justice,” on the “inside-out” model of prison education. The plan was to shuttle traditional students each day to the local prison to learn beside their incarcerated classmates. Sadly, EMCC nixed that plan earlier in the fall, citing a shortage of security personnel. When Sharon Varallo, the executive director of APEP, asked me to choose whether to teach the course to free students or incarcerated students, I quickly chose the latter. I knew from some prior experiences that deep transformation of individuals and communities is more likely—or at least easier to notice—when teaching behind bars.Continue reading
Month: February 2023
Embracing Uncertainty: Parallels Between the Scientific Method and Vocational Discernment
(Austin) I recently hosted a career panel for our science majors at my college. During this panel, students had the opportunity to hear from fantastic individuals who were doing exciting and fulfilling work in careers like healthcare diagnostics, pharmaceutical management, and biotech research and development. The students heard compelling stories about the winding and fortuitous journeys that led the panelists to their current vocations. Since the panelists were alumni of the college and had been in the same position as my students a decade ago, I was excited about how current students might gain confidence in pursuit of their own unique and creative paths.
After the panel, I held a feedback session for my students. I anticipated their excitement about potential careers and where they might be called. However, they seemed more nervously overwhelmed than awestruck. The sentiment in the room was summarized by a student who said,Continue reading
Vocational Narratives: Finding Meaning in Challenging Times
As students continue to navigate ever-changing, demanding times in higher education and the world, feeling a sense of purpose and control over one’s life is important. NetVUE’s Spring 2023 webinar on February 7 focused on vocational narratives as a creative and effective way to find meaning in challenging times. The webinar featured three speakers who discussed their experiences and strategies for integrating vocational narratives in our work with students.
Supporting LGBTQIA+ Students in the Pursuit of Meaningful Work
A few years ago, one of my queer-identified students shared with me some resume advice they had received from a colleague in our career center: not to include their internship at an LGBTQIA+ advocacy organization because potential employers would respond negatively. This advice confused and frustrated the student. They were out, and their queer identity had played an important part in their vocational discernment. This internship had reinforced their sense of calling by clarifying and strengthening their emerging professional commitment to work in the queer community after graduation. Not surprisingly, this student wanted to know what I thought they should do.Continue reading
Called to Build Peace
How can people with different views on issues that matter have meaningful conversations?
My students in first-year composition may or may not care about writing a paper, but when I ask this question the first day of class, they are with me. They are tired of the shouting stalemate they see in our current discourse, and they want to do better.
As educators today, and particularly in the humanities, we face several challenges: how do we lead students into worthwhile conversations and real learning on controversial issues? How can we help students overcome their natural obstacles to understanding others, especially understanding views different from their own? How do we help them “loosen up so they can learn,” as my colleague Paul puts it—to open up intellectually and emotionally so that they can engage with the world?Continue reading
Meghan Sullivan on the Care of the Soul
A new episode on NetVUE’s podcast series Callings brings to listeners an interview with Meghan Sullivan, the Wilsey Family Collegiate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and the director of the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. She is also the founder of Notre Dame’s God and the Good Life program, for which she taught the nationally recognized course of the same name.Continue reading
Sometimes It’s the Small Things: The Power of Chats
David Crowley talks with student Maria Gaughan about the formative power of small conversations as part of a series in which faculty members interview students about vocational exploration.
Last summer I accompanied a group of 20 college students on a vocation-focused overseas trip. Compounding my fear of losing either the students themselves or their voluminous documentation (so many COVID test results, health forms, and printed itineraries!) was the fact that I did not know most of these students; they were members of two COVID-disrupted cohorts of Assumption University’s SOPHIA program, a yearlong vocational discernment experience for sophomores that culminates in a trip to Rome. I had not served as a SOPHIA mentor for these students, and I had never met most of them through advising or a class, so they were strangers to me…and I was a stranger to them.
One student whose reputation had preceded her was rising senior Maria Gaughan. I had heard that Maria was an excellent student who was doing impressive research with one of my colleagues in the biology department. I was looking for allies on this trip and jumped at the chance to speak with Maria on the bus ride to the airport. This became the first of many fruitful conversations for us, but, as I have come to discover, I was just the latest of Maria’s formative conversation partners. Last fall, I invited her to join a student panel at our NetVUE regional gathering on mentoring in the sciences. At this event, she caught the attention of many participants, including the editor of this blog. What follows are excerpts of Maria’s reflections on seemingly small mentoring moments with big vocational impacts–what she calls “chats.”Continue reading