ASHLAND — Ashland University has been selected to receive a $50,000 NetVUE Program Development Grant that is intended to help undergraduate students with the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation.
The Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) Program Development Grants are made possible by a grant to the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) from Lilly Endowment Inc. NetVUE is a nationwide network of colleges and universities formed to enrich the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among undergraduate students and Ashland University is among 36 NetVUE institutions selected in the second annual group of grant recipients.
The AU award was based on a proposal titled “Vocation: From Exploration to Experience” that was submitted to the CIC earlier this year.
Karen Hagans, executive director of the career services center at Ashland University, and Dr. Dan Lawson, dean of religious life at Ashland University, will work hand-in-hand in administering the new program.
“The NetVUE grant offers Ashland University students an amazing opportunity to explore their vocational goals, values and calling,” Hagans said. “Because of the grant, students will be able to build on foundational career-related initiatives contained within their Accent on Success and Lifetime Wellness courses. Collaboration among faculty and staff on our campus, along with the NetVUE grant, enhances our powerful partnerships to benefit our students.”
Hagans said the grant also will fund a video library of Ashland University graduates discussing their career paths.
“It will be developed and made available to students 24/7 on the internal portal. We anticipate some videos will be utilized to complement career-related classroom initiatives,” she said. “There are general opportunities for students in all majors to engage in experiential education including informational interviews, shadowing, study abroad, volunteerism and internships.”
Lawson said he is excited about the impact the grant will have on AU’s Center of Religious Life.
“Students seeking experience in their vocation will now be able to participate in a new service-based internship program developed by the campus ministry’s Center of Religious Life,” Lawson said. “This program, titled Summer of Service, will match interns’ major area of study to the practical needs of a particular mission site, and allow the student to engage in a reflection process on their mission work experience.”
Lawson said the NetVUE support for the Summer of Service internships opens the opportunity for the Center of Religious Life to deepen its mission work and its understanding of the potential for service as a component of students’ philanthropic and service aspirations, as well as their future careers.
“Summer of Service challenges include the fact that mission sites are unable to provide paid internships. Another challenge is providing the needed administrative support to organize, train and prepare for these internships,” he said. “This grant will help Ashland address these challenges by providing an initial stipend to assist in the provision of this administrative support.”
Lawson noted that the Center of Religious Life mission trips provide experiential learning opportunities that are centered on spiritual values.
“Summer of Service will expand the Center’s Isaiah Project, which has sent 500-plus participants on mission trips to 17 countries,” he said. “With NetVUE Program Development support, Summer of Service interns will utilize their study majors to provide needed services at one of our mission sites in the United States or abroad.”
Lawson said the length of service will be six to eight weeks now, rather than the two weeks typical of Isaiah Project missions.
Hagans noted that a foundation for vocational exploration on campus was revitalized in 2011 when the career services’ Seeking Opportunities, Achieving Results (SOAR) Program was developed. “The program is piloting several vocational exploration videos, which feature students and their alumni mentors. These are being very well received by students undertaking vocational explorations,” she said.
“We are pleased to have gifted Ashland University graduates who are willing to contribute time and talent as SOAR mentors. Their mentorship to date has proven to be invaluable to Ashland University students,” she said. “The grant will allow us to grow the SOAR program and introduce more students to a wealth of career-related and life experiences through mentorships. Since we can learn a great deal from those who have gone before us, we are confident that the mentorships will aid our students with their career-related journeys.”
Lawson, who serves as the netVUE campus coordinator at Ashland, acknowledged those AU employees – Hagans, Ray Jacobs, Joe Hendershot, Cindy Mosemen, Val Kuenkele and Laura Kruger — who have served on the campus NetVUE task force.