HOW DID THE INITIATIVE BEGIN?
The idea to create the campus initiative began to take shape in November 2015 when former Provost Dr. Steve Oldham called a small group of faculty and staff together to discuss how to help students think more intentionally about purpose and vocation. The vision was to help enable graduates of UMHB to live meaningful lives that fulfill the will of God and contribute to the common good.
“Through Vocaré, we want to help foster a campus culture of meaningful life exploration,” said Dr. Vassar, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “The goals of the initiative also include training faculty and staff to engage students in conversations that explore life purpose, providing opportunities for students to explore and experience potential life callings, and shaping our curriculum to help students consider the spiritual, moral, and societal commitments that produce meaningful lives.”
In the Fall of 2019, the Vocaré initiative was awarded a NetVUE grant, which was used to create workshops and trainings for staff and faculty. “There is much enthusiasm for the initiative and a growing awareness of its goals across the campus,” Carrell said.
According to a UMHB Freshman Seminar report that year, 68.9 percent of students moderately or strongly agreed that they have a specific calling in life.
“It is clear that the majority of first-year students are at least receptive to the language of ‘calling,’” Carrell said. “From this, we know it’s prudent that we give them regular opportunities to identify and reflect on their own personal strengths and gifts.”
Yvette Shackelford, assistant to the vice president for student life, said working alongside students and helping them see their gifts and talents has given her own life and work meaning and purpose.
“I love helping give students a sense of direction,” she said. “I love to serve other people and work alongside the students and see them happy. That truly makes me very happy.”
Dr. William “Bill” Tanner also finds meaning and purpose in his work as a professor and department chair of computer science, engineering, and physics. He is excited to share the initiative with his students to help them on their journeys to find “calling.”
“I have always felt that there is a need for folks to be able to work with students in a way that they can become aware of their potential and to achieve that,” Tanner said. “I really enjoy being a part of that process.”
Even though someone’s calling may evolve and change as they get older and go through life, Carrell says the process is essentially about discernment.
“It’s our hope that while at UMHB students will listen thoughtfully, read broadly, and think deeply about calling,” he said. “So when they discover their gifts, develop their talents, and explore their passions, they can go out and make a difference in the world.”