Richard Sévère on Sharing Stories

The hosts of NetVUE’s Callings podcast, Erin VanLaningham and John Barton, sit down for a conversation with Richard Sévère in the latest episode. Richard is professor of English and interim associate dean at Valparaiso University, where he also directs the Bloom Scholars Program, a program that prepares students academically, socially, and culturally for college, especially first-generation and underprepared students. In this episode, Richard shares how purposefully connecting with colleagues and students to hear their stories can allow a sense of difference to inform vocational discernment.

Richard describes his shock, after attending an HBCU as an undergraduate, at being the only Black man in his PhD class at Purdue University, a situation that has been repeated many times since then. He understands his vocational journey as being called again and again “to these spaces where I can make [an] impact.” In his understanding, vocation means “being open-minded, open-hearted, receiving those moments that can help you” make a decision or rethink your journey.

His approach to mentoring, friendship, and vocation draws in part from his work with first-generation students and students from the Black diaspora. Different students live in different contexts and have different concepts of calling, so he approaches his work always with the invitation, “let’s share stories.”

Intentional conversations foster an exploration of life, identity, and diversity that can build students’ confidence and a willingness to explore all aspects of a college experience. Education, he says, is an “investment of time” that allows you to ask who you want to be and who you can be.

Click here to listen to the episode featuring Richard Sévère titled “An Investment of Time.”

Stephanie L. Johnson is the editor of Vocation Matters.

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