Vocation in Action: Community Engagement with Diverse Populations

As our society continues to become more diverse and connected to the global community, students need to consider their vocations in a sociocultural context. In addition to helping students discern their many callings in life, this work can make an important contribution to developing campuses and communities that are more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just. As part of its 2023 UnConference, NetVUE hosted a webinar on March 23 with three teams who discussed their experiences and strategies for actively integrating vocation into diverse populations so that both our students and our communities benefit.

From left to right: John DeCostanza, Sheila Bauer-Gatsos, Bradley Pardue, and Trishia Kholodenko.

Members of the Dominican University team spoke first, including John DeCostanza, vice president for mission and university ministry; Sheila Bauer-Gatsos, associate professor of English; Lindsay Bruce, executive director of retention and academic success; and Rosa Padilla Rincon, current undergraduate student and peer mentor. They shared how Dominican’s first-year seminar program and a course titled “The Examined Life” fosters intercultural competence and identity development using restorative justice circle practices. They discussed the value of peer mentorships and affirming the experiences of their predominantly Latine student population.

The second speaker was Bradley Pardue, associate professor of history at College of the Ozarks. He discussed the five-day Vocation Trip experience for juniors and seniors, during which students learn about the theology of vocation and develop an individual mission statement after personal exploration. The program exposes students to various forms of diversity and multiculturalism as they spend several days meeting with members at corporate headquarters, various start-up companies, and a charter school.

The final speaker was Trishia Kholodenko, director of innovation and operations at the Center for Faith and Innovation iLab at Wheaton College (IL). Trishia talked about the immersive and experiential scholar initiative program that provides students with an opportunity to gain experience working on partner projects and engaging in the day-to-day pressures of market-driven businesses. This program serves a diverse group of students, including international students.  

The concluding thirty minutes of the webinar were dedicated to questions from participants, including questions about specific approaches to integrating vocation and diversity in active classrooms and institutional initiatives. The following additional related resources were also provided: Callings podcast episodes on Education, Contemplation, and Joy; Healing and Homecoming; and Annual Trash Day, as well as Vocation Matters blog posts on Our Entangled Banks; Finding Vocation in The New York Times; Building Multicultural Competency; What an Unjust World Also Needs: Connecting Vocation and Activism; and Vocation and Diversity: Some Institutional Considerations.

The webinar was recorded and can be accessed here. Please note that when you go to this link, it will prompt you to share your name and email address, but this is not a login; it simply allows NetVUE to keep track of interest. You are unlikely to receive any follow-up emails unless you are at a NetVUE member institution. However, if you do, you’ll have the opportunity to unsubscribe.

Rachel F. Pickett is the webinar coordinator for NetVUE.

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