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North Central College Wins Grant to Expand Vocational Exploration, Careers in Social Impact

North Central CollegeNAPERVILLE, IL – Vocational exploration and making a difference in our world are central components of a program development grant North Central College received from the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE).

The two-year grant gives North Central College an opportunity to enhance, expand, strengthen and unify existing programs related to the exploration of vocation. Students will have more opportunities to explore educational experiences to help them discover their vocational interests. They also will gain skills to realize that vocation.

“We do a great job in our academic programs and co-curricular experiences to prepare students to be informed, involved, principled and productive citizens and leaders over their lifetime,” says Jeremy Gudauskas ’99/M ’11, associate dean of students and co-manager of the grant program. “Receiving this grant helps us do more. It gives us the opportunity to enhance what we already do and broaden the spectrum of opportunities for vocational or career exploration.”

A key objective for this grant is unifying a campus-wide strategy related to vocation and social impact. As students consider their majors and career goals, they will have new educational opportunities to explore and connect those goals with their purpose or calling in life.

Most students, says Gudauskas, want to make a positive impact in the world but may lose their vision along the way. “We’ll be here to provide advanced training and give them the tools to transition from wanting to make a difference to actually making it happen.”

North Central will use the grant to infuse the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation into existing offerings in the Leadership, Ethics and Values (LEV), First-Year Experience (FYE), student leadership, and local and global immersion programs. It also will support ongoing functions of related campus departments.

A new proposed undergraduate course in social entrepreneurship and enhanced content of existing courses in LEV will expose students to opportunities in social impact fields. Cardinal Camps, an FYE program, is another avenue for exploration. For example, a new camp led by the campus chaplain will present theological exploration in Chicago’s urban setting, giving students opportunities to experience varied ways to minister and serve as a career choice. Additional camp options are centered on possible careers in health care, theater, interactive media, sports and social innovation.

Additional immersion learning experiences — locally, nationally and internationally — will provide hands-on experiences. Students will go places and discover career possibilities never considered before. Those who want to develop a new student organization or campus initiative related to social impact will have funding available to them.

In addition, vocational services, tools and training will be added through the offices of Career Development and Ministry and Service. Training and equipping students, faculty and staff also may include speakers, conferences and consultations with experts and social impact organizations.

An advisory board of several faculty and staff and three co-managers will guide efforts related to the grant. The program manager is Gudauskas; project leader is Whitney Roberts ’08/M ’13, assistant director for civic engagement; and faculty lead is Tom Cavenagh, Schneller Sisters Professor of Leadership, Ethics and Values, professor of business law and conflict resolution, director of LEV and coordinator of master of leadership studies program.

North Central College is a member of NetVUE, a nationwide network of colleges and universities that was formed to enrich the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among undergraduate students. This initiative is administered by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc. and members’ dues.

Founded in 1861, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in seven areas. Located in the Historic District of Naperville, IL — rated by Money magazine as among the nation’s “Best Places to Live” — North Central College is just 30 minutes from Chicago’s Loop. With more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students, North Central College is committed to academic excellence, a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service, a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation and a caring environment with small classes.