Assumption Awarded NetVUE Grant for new Alumni-Student Mentoring Program

Dec. 7, 2021
Office of Communications
Esteban Loustaunau, Ph.D., Director of Assumption University's Center for Purpose and Vocation discusses with students the exploration of vocation in its many forms — active, contemplative, creative, religious, social, communal, personal, and professional.

Assumption University is among a select group of institutions to be awarded a two-year NetVUE (Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education) Program Development Grant to support its Alumni-Student Partnerships in Reflective Engagement (ASPIRE) Program, an effort to deepen vocational exploration and discernment among undergraduate students and alumni mentors.

This innovative program will expand and strengthen existing campus initiatives for the intellectual exploration of vocation by establishing a mentoring program for junior and senior students and alumni. The ASPIRE Program, a collaboration of the Center for Purpose and Vocation (CPV), the Career Development and Internship Center (CDIC), and the University’s Alumni Relations Office, will enhance successful practices of established vocation and mentoring initiatives, including the SOPHIA (Sophomore Initiative at Assumption) Program and the Hounds with Purpose alumni blog.

“This program reflects a key characteristic of our mission which is grounded in St. Augustine’s understanding of education as a process of self-discovery,” said University President Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D. “What is especially exciting about this program is its multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary framework, which will build upon what the University has already done and draw on a wide cross-section of the community – faculty, students, staff, and alumni – to create a vibrant, engaging approach to the idea of vocation. Underlying this approach is the idea that vocational discernment is part of a life-long process, which will benefit both students and alumni in their continued discernment of what gives meaning and purpose to their lives.”

The $44,167 in NetVUE funds will be used to design accessible and impactful multimedia mentor training for alumni to provide them with an appropriate framework and language of vocation to engage students as they discern how best to live purposeful lives and build meaningful careers. ASPIRE will help build relationships of reciprocity, where current students benefit from the lived experiences of alumni, and the alumni benefit from the insights and enthusiasm of the current students. Grant funding will also be used for workshops and retreats and piloting and assessing the program.

“We understand vocation as a collaborative process that sparks a desire to hear and respond to a call and a commitment to transform students’ lives,” said Prof. David Crowley, Ph.D., Associate Director of the CPV and Director of the Aspire Program. “Through this grant, the University will provide expanded levels of support for junior and senior students as fully emerging adults discerning their calling, and train alumni to build holistic mentoring relationships with them. On behalf of the University, I wish to thank NetVUE for recognizing the transformative value of our vocational discernment program that seeks to form students in building strong character and leading a more meaningful and purposeful life.”

Since it was established in Spring 2019, the CPV has cultivated partnerships with various centers, programs, and offices across the divisions of Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Campus Ministry, Residential Life, and the Office of the President. These partnerships have spawned several programs that provide meaningful opportunities for vocational engagement for students, faculty, and staff, including the aforementioned SOPHIA Program and Hounds with Purpose blog, among other programs that support students in their journey of vocational discovery.

The CPV champions the University’s mission to “awaken in students a sense of wonder, discovery, and purpose; forming graduates known for their intellectual seriousness, thoughtful citizenship, and devotion to the common good.” This is achieved by developing programs and opportunities for reflective dialogue among students, faculty, and staff on meaning, purpose, and vocation. The CPV supports the exploration of vocation in its many forms — active, contemplative, creative, religious, social, communal, personal, professional — through courses, events, and initiatives sponsored in partnership with various academic departments, programs, and offices.

NetVUE Program Development Grants are funded by the Council of Independent Colleges and Lilly Endowment Inc.