Wednesday November 1, 2017

Chaminade Scholars: Reflecting On Growth Together

Navigating the Journey of Discernment within a Caring Community

College is a time of discovery and discernment. For three UD Honors alums, the Chaminade Scholars program guided their search for vocation and community.

The Chaminade Scholars program is a unique opportunity offered by the University Honors Program through an application and interview process. Fifteen students from a variety of majors are selected each year to form the cohort. By becoming a member of this scholarly community, students make an intentional long-term commitment to explore reason, faith and vocation through a variety of academic lenses.

Samantha Kennedy, ’12, applied to the Chaminade Scholars program because she wanted to learn more about God, herself and her community at UD. “I wanted to understand what my faith meant to me,” she said. In addition to personal discovery, the program offered opportunities for personal and religious growth. “I was excited to learn about my faith through scholarship, discussion, community, retreats and a pilgrimage.”

Kennedy found herself learning through her religious studies major, as well as the classes offered especially for Chaminade Scholars. “Each class we took taught me something different about myself, my faith and the world.” She also considered the retreats to be formative moments in her faith. “Each retreat helped to ground and form me,” she said. “This program helped me embrace my vocation, and it challenged me to think deeper about God, prayer, spirituality and creativity.”

Currently, Kennedy works as a Campus Minister in UD’s Center for Social Concern. Without her experience as a Chaminade Scholar, Kennedy does not think she would have become a minister. “Receiving the opportunity to grow as a part of this program and to rely on the support of others during college and discernment was really crucial for me,” she said.

When Karl Eckberg ’11 was asked why he decided to apply to the program, he responded, “I wanted to seek ways to incorporate a deeper understanding of my vocation into my studies and my daily life.” To Eckberg that intentional commitment, combined with the integration of academics and vocational discernment, felt right. “It was a natural fit that helped me to continue to explore God’s plan in my life.” By being in community with the other Chaminade Scholars, he found himself growing spiritually as he became a more faithful Catholic.

As a premedicine and religious studies major, Eckberg blended his love for medicine and religion; participating in the Chaminade Scholars helped him find the direction in which he should take his passions. “The program helped me to understand the ways that God was influencing my life and where He was calling me to be,” he said. “My studies in vocation have helped me to develop a deep sense of service and, as a pediatrician, I help to serve those who need especially helping children with complex or special health care needs.”

Intervention specialist major Renee Brown, ’17, decided to apply to the program after her tour guide mentioned it. Brown learned how the UD community strengthened her faith after being selected and committing to the program. “It taught me that I have a group of individuals that help to challenge, watch and support my growth,” she said. “I have found new ways to experience my faith and have had the confidence to explore them.”

Brown found that her life was profoundly impacted by the conversations she had with her fellow cohort members as they encouraged her throughout her faith journey at UD. Her cohort also helped her as she discerned “what I will be doing in the future,” said Brown. “I know I will always find support in my cohort, even after graduation.”

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