Santa Clara University

Santa Clara's Tapestry of Excellence:

DISCOVER-ing a Vocation

Shanna Doucette and Michael Colyer
SCU student Shanna Doucette's (left) summer internship brought her career goals into focus.  Michael Colyer (right) says he hopes internships will help clarify students’ vocational callings.
Student summer ministry internships are about discovery. Through the Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Center for Community-Based Learning and the DISCOVER Project, SCU students can broaden their understanding of possible career choices while gauging their interest in ministry—whether ordained or lay.

"Some students will want to pursue ministry in all of its diverse manifestations— serving as teachers, nurses, directors of social service agencies, case workers in homeless shelters sponsored by religious orders, or as ordained clergy members," says Michael Colyer, program manager for faith and justice education at the Arrupe Center.

The program, supported in part by Lilly Endowment Inc., requires each student to spend 280 hours working during the summer in a full-time capacity. "Our hope is that such an intensive investment will foster a significant understanding of what it means to be engaged in this work as well as insight and clarity into their own vocational calling. Vocational discernment is DISCOVER’s goal.

Colyer says students are encouraged to pursue internships in the United States because, "we want them to discover the possibilities for ministerial work here at home."

Recent internships have included a transitional housing program for homeless mothers in Sacramento and a Presbyterian church in Seattle. Students receive a $2,800 stipend so whichever faith-based organization they work for doesn’t have to pay them a salary.

Five students participated last summer and 10 will be chosen for the internships starting this year.

Colyer praised Santa Clara for the options it affords students. "DISCOVER allows students not to have to put away what they learned at SCU," he says, adding that students who return from these trips "are much more intentional and conscious of what they want to do beyond graduation. Clarity is what we’re hoping for. Hopefully, DISCOVER will open up horizons and maybe open up doors for them."

When they return to campus in the fall, students attend a retreat and meet with Colyer throughout the quarter "to make sense out of and unpack their experience," he says. "They are encouraged to re-examine their academic life in light of what they’ve learned and to incorporate their summer experience into their studies whenever possible."

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