Cierra Ghafari, Women's Rowing '19

I’ve learned so much in the last year about myself that, looking back a year ago, I would have told myself I was crazy for even attempting some of the things that I’ve tried. I’ve done what all college students do in their first year of college and that’s trying new things and quitting if I don’t like it. But never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that my passion would find me. I didn’t find it. But it found me. And that is what I think vocation is. It’s something that you don’t realize is a part of you until it finds you and changes you for the better. The thing that keeps me going is knowing I have all of these amazing younger people looking up to me and because I want them to go on to do the amazing things that I know they will do, I strive to achieve at my highest standards to show them that they can do it as well. The best part about vocation is that it can always change and evolve but never diminish.

Sydney Otey, Wild Hope Fellow, Women's Rowing '17

In being a Wild Hope Fellow, I have had the opportunity to delve into the concept of vocation, which I didn’t entirely understand or appreciate before participating in the program. So often, we hear the word vocation thrown around at PLU as a synonym for a career, perhaps a meaningful career, but some sort of productive, paid work nonetheless. When I heard vocation discussed in those terms, I was critical of the concept. It put a lot of pressure on students to decide what they will “do,” and implies that every job done must be life-changing or world-changing. However, I have come to understand that vocation can encompass so much more than that. It includes meaningful relationships, opportunities, and experiences, whether or not they relate to any sort of career. It is a way of finding meaning in life, no matter where I am or what I hope to be doing later. In college, I think we hear vocation discussed as a long-term goal, or something to be “reached” at some point after graduation. On the contrary, though, I have come to realize that vocation speaks to what we do now. It allows us to embrace ambiguity of not knowing what is to come, and it is definitely not something to be “reached” in X amount of years. It’s a calling that is ever-present, and we never run out of chances to respond. As a Wild Hope Fellow, I have enjoyed the opportunity to work on programming for the Day of Vocation that relates this message to students at PLU. Our hope is that through interactive discussion, activities, and talks, we can show students that vocation isn’t something that has to be found through a career, but rather something that is acted upon each day as we strive to be part of something larger than ourselves.

Molly Maloney, Wild Hope Fellow '16

As a Wild Hope Fellow, you get to spend a few hours each week reading, thinking, and talking about vocation with other individuals and professors who have also spent a lot of time delving into the subject. You develop a strong sense of what vocational exploration looks like, why it is so important, and how it differs from individual to individual. Personally, I was empowered to consider my purpose and to take risks in order to explore it fully. More than that, the program gave me the tools to have more effective and holistic conversations with others about their vocational journeys, and these have been reflected in conversations with my friends, family, and even with my first year residents in Pflueger. The program reinforced my understanding that vocational exploration looks very different for different people, and that the way we our conversations about vocation have to reflect this. Not everyone has the financial or emotional support to choose the major they are most drawn to or the career they might dream of, and we have to be realistic about how vocational exploration looks given the real constraints of money; time; and familial, social, or cultural pressure. There are still ways to engage in vocation and purpose, and we need to be talking about how to do that.  As a Wild Hope fellow, I have been involved in Day of Vocation, the Lutheran Studies Conference, New Student Orientation, as well as many other events here at PLU and was even able to attend a conference in Santa Barbara about vocational exploration in undergraduate education.