Inspiring a Renewed Sense of Calling

Inspiring a Renewed Sense of Calling

Erin Payseur

Associate Director, Civic Learning Initiatives, Office of Community Engagement & Service, Baylor University

What is your calling?

Why do you do what you do?

And, why does it matter?

Many of us have clear answers to those questions and come to the work of higher education with a clear sense of calling. Many of us come to this profession as a way to make a difference in the lives of our students and to create environments and programs in which students can thrive – personally, socially, and academically.

The longer I walk in this profession, the more I find that connecting to that sense of calling inspires me in my work, keeps me going amidst the challenges and frustrations of program administration, and provides a vision of the deeper impact of the work within our field. I also find that the more we share our respective sense of calling in this work, the more we build deeper connections with others. The more we find encouragement as we traverse a common path toward shaping students’ lives and creating flourishing university campuses.

Sometimes that sense of calling gets buried under to-do lists and programs or set aside for reports and planning. The summer months, though, are often a time I set aside to intentionally reconnect to those questions, to the deeper motivations behind the work that I do, and why it matters. This summer, as part of that process, I plan to talk to several of my colleagues across the country to learn about their sense of calling in their work, to glean morsels of insight and encouragement from the work that they do, and to think about how it might encourage me and others. And the team at Learn Forward has graciously allowed me to bring you along for the journey!

In the coming weeks, I plan to chat with five practitioners at different colleges & universities working in different areas of higher education to learn what inspires them and why they do what they do. I want to glean how we individually and collectively articulate the value of the work that we do and the calling we bring to it. We’ll hear from colleagues about the following questions:

  • What do you do every day?
  • What inspires you to do this work?
  • What keeps you going during times of frustration & challenges?
  • How does your work contribute to the flourishing of students and the university?
  • Describe a favorite moment where you felt you were walking in your calling as a student affairs professional.

Then, I’ll share a related tidbit or insight from the story that we can hopefully apply to our individual work. I expect there to be many valuable morsels.

I hope you’ll join me for the journey.

Also, If you would like to participate, I welcome the opportunity to hear from you. Feel free to connect with me via email or @LearnForwardHE.

Erin Payseur

Associate Director, Civic Learning Initiatives, Office of Community Engagement & Service, Baylor University