Who Are You Called to Be? My Callings Experience

By Danielle Villhard

Entering college is exciting… and scary. As thrilling as being on your own seems at first, everyone experiences some fear of the new, major step of going off to college. I was in that position about a year ago, in the second semester of my senior year of high school. I was set on the University of Dayton, I’d chosen my major, and I’d found a roommate. Everything was falling into place, but I still felt nervous about the actual going to college part. I worried about making friends, finding clubs I was interested in, and making faith a priority at school. As I explored the UD website for the millionth time, trying to learn everything I could about my new school, I came across the Callings program. Little did I know this find would lead me to one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.

The Callings program is a four-day summer program for incoming first-year students that explores the core values of UD - Learn, Lead, Serve, and Pray. From icebreaker games to service projects, the program offers many opportunities to meet new people - your new classmates - and build lasting relationships before you even move in.

When I arrived at UD for my Callings session last July, I didn’t have many expectations. If anything, I just wanted to know my way around campus a little better. What I got, however, was lasting friendships, a better understanding of who I’m called to be, and the motivation to live out my faith at school.

UD is all about community, but the Callings program goes one step further and incorporates family. Participants are put into small groups and matched with a pair of sophomore leaders - a.k.a. “Mom” and “Dad.” It may seem silly at first, but entering college with a group of friends and a family is invaluable. From bonding over jokes about vegetables to grabbing Chick-fil-A, I love having a supportive group of people that will always be there to talk to, laugh with, and support me.

Another worry I had about entering college was maintaining a strong faith life. Being away from home, with the independence to choose how to manage my own time, I wondered if I would be as consistent with things like going to Mass on Sundays or joining a bible study group. Callings not only showed me new ways to pray and introduced me to the amazing Campus Ministry here at UD, but I also got the accountability and support I was looking for in the people I met. During the program, we even got the chance to explore tons of opportunities to get involved, like serving as a Eucharistic Minister at Sunday Mass or volunteering at local organizations off-campus.

If it were not for Callings, I wouldn’t have found lifelong friends, fantastic opportunities through the Campus Ministry department, and explored my calling as a college student. The program had such an impact on me - and 27 of my fellow Callings participants - that we are coming back this summer to be Callings leaders for the next group of incoming first-years. I’m beyond excited to share my love for UD and the Callings program with my own “family” and see the new participants explore who they are called to be.

 Edited by Ben Swick
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