June 18, 2024

Wittenberg students and faculty sparked conversations about vocation on Friday, Jan. 27 in Founder’s Pub.
Students Max Joseph, ’17, and Madeline O’Malley, ’18, joined Brian Yontz, associate professor of education, and head women’s basketball coach Sarah Jurewicz, in telling personal stories about what vocation meant to them at the SPARK Leadership Series event. The series was inspired by the popular TED Talks, and designed to engage Wittenberg students in conversations related to vocation, identity and intercultural awareness.
Hannah Kesig, ’18, planned the event, which was sponsored by Student Involvement.
“SPARK is all about storytelling,” Kesig said. “And I think it’s equally as important for giving students and staff a place to share their stories as it is to have other students hear them.”
Storytelling truly was the focus of the evening, as each speaker was given the opportunity to share the story of their vocation with the audience. Both O’Malley and Joseph had stories that were bound across the globe. O’Malley stated that she found her calling in helping the people of Lesotho, and said that the global impact she has seen Wittenberg students make is an inspiration to her.
“If you have a dream, if you have something you are passionate about, go for it,” O’Malley said.
She also encouraged her peers to look for a place they could make a difference.
Kesig shared her thoughts regarding the importance of talk about vocation. She found O’Malley’s story to be particularly moving because of her passion to serve the children of Lesotho. Joseph’s story of vocation was tied deeply to his identity. He found his vocation in serving others through the Peace Corps after first exploring a creative career, and evaluating his life and his values.
“Finding vocation is all about trial and error,” Joseph said.
O’Malley and Joseph were followed by two members of Wittenberg’s faculty who presented their own formulas for discovering vocation. According to Jurewicz, vocation is determined by an individual’s values, emotions and legacy. She encouraged audience members to think about what they value, what stirs their emotions and what they want their legacy to be. The answer to all of these questions, she stated, is their calling.
Like Jurewicz, Yontz used his time to describe his own interpretation of vocation. Yontz described vocation as the intersection between what makes you glad and what the world needs. However, he gave students other things to consider at this intersection, including their talents, geography, varied perspectives and the important relationships they are in.
Michelle Murray, ‘17, enjoyed Yontz’s reflections on relationships, especially as her time to find her vocation nears.
“I think every person I have encountered at Wittenberg has made an impact on my life,” Murray said. “Every smile, every conversation, every memory has made me who I am today.”
Kesig said she is pleased with the event, and hopes students found it helpful in terms of finding their vocation.
“We hope that SPARK is engaging for all students and might light a little fire in them to go out there and share their passions with the world,” Kesig said.

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