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