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College News

Making a Difference, One Life at a Time

July 12, 2004

Category: Religion & Philosophy


It’s thanks to funding from Catawba College’s Lilly Center for Vocation and Values that 2004 Catawba graduate Rachel Bahr of Plant City, Fla. will be going to divinity school at Chicago Theological this fall.

“The Lilly program enables students to unite one’s faith with one’s career,” explained Bahr. “I finally realized that I did not have to separate my theatre background and my hunger for peace and justice in our world. These two passions can walk hand in hand. And now, Catawba’s Lilly Center is helping me actualize this dream by providing financial support while I complete my education. I am so blessed!”

Funding from the Lilly Center is also making it possible for Catawba students to be paid while participating in internships at area non-profit organizations. Laura Althaus of Salisbury is working at the Rowan County Animal Shelter, while Elizabeth Gill of Woodbury, N.J., and Lauren Corriher of Landis, both 2004 graduates, are learning the intricacies of the American Red Cross at the local Elizabeth Hanford Dole Chapter in Salisbury. Three Catawba students will be working with children during their internships at non-profits this summer, including Amy Honeycutt of Mt. Ulla at Nazareth Children’s Home, and Meg Jordan of Brevard and Danielle Scearce of Salisbury at Partners in Learning Child Development Center.

Due to funding provided by the Lilly Center, each of the aforementioned students will see first-hand through their own experiences what constitutes a life of purpose and meaning. Chances are that the jobs they eventually land will not make them wealthy, according to Dr. Kenneth Clapp, director of Catawba’s Lilly Center, but rather, the jobs they land will be personally meaningful for them and impact society in a positive way.

Clapp takes the long view when he assesses the work of Catawba’s Lilly Center, now one year in existence and funded with a $2 million grant the College received from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. He knows that student attitudes are molded and changed, one at a time, and that many ignore the call to live a life of purpose.

“ Seeing service to others modeled by peers and mentors, experiencing the joy of knowing you have made a difference in someone’s life, becoming aware of the needs and opportunities…. these are factors that cause students to make a commitment to pursuing vocations and activities that can make our communities and the world a better place,” said Clapp. “Through the Lilly Center, we are opening doors to these opportunities and experiences.”


Lilly Center Awards Scholarships and Grants

The 2003-2004 academic year was the first year that Catawba’s Lilly Center awarded a series of scholarships and grants to Catawba students. “Year of Inquiry” scholarships of $1,000 per semester were made available to students who wanted to explore the possibility of pursuing a vocation in Christian ministry. Nine students received these including Nicholas Savko of Worthington, Ohio, Matthew Causey of Salisbury, Joy Brandli ’04 of Bonifay, Fla., Will Reedy of Oviedo, Fla., Kamille Plocinik of Baltimore, Md., Dennis Reed, Jr. of Charlotte, GeoRene Jones of Salisbury, Emily McGaughy of Upland, Calf., and Mary-Helen Eppelsheimer of Greenwood, S.C.

Four upper-class students majoring in religion and philosophy and preparing for a ministry vocation qualified for a grant of $2,000 for each semester in the 2003-2004 academic year. Lilly Fellows grants were awarded to Kristen McCachren of Cleveland, Joy Denton of Salisbury, Tal Brewer ’04 of Asheboro, and Laura Althaus.

Rising seniors at Catawba who plan to continue their studies in divinity school or seminary qualified for a $28,000 grant to cover tuition for their senior year in college and their first year of seminary study. This Lilly Scholars grant was awarded to Rachel Bahr.

Readings, Retreats, Discussions and Colloquium

Other key components of Catawba’s Lilly Center have developed in the form of outreach programs involving members of both the college and area community.

Lilly Center funding in 2003-2004 made it possible for the entire campus community to participate in a dialog concerning a common reading, Parker Palmer’s book “Let Your Life Speak.” Copies of that text were purchased by the Lilly Center and distributed to most of those on campus. It served as a focal point for conversations at the Freshman Retreat, Opening Convocation, in some sessions of the Freshman Seminar groups, the Wednesday morning ethics seminar, the fall Spiritual Growth Retreat, and a Faculty/Staff Retreat. Catawba’s common reading for this fall is Rabbi Harold Kushner’s “Living a Life That Matters.”

Various retreats were also planned and organized by the Lilly Center during its first year of existence and all of these are to be repeated during the upcoming academic year. These included a Freshman Retreat held in late August which challenged entering students to consider the gifts and talents they possess and how they could use those to realize their potential. Some of the participants in the initial Freshman Retreat felt it had impacted them so deeply that they volunteered to help provide student leadership during future retreats.

A Faculty/Staff Retreat allowed participants to think about practices that lead to the building of community and encouraged them to help students focus on vocation.

Two Spiritual Growth Retreats for students were offered in which students were guided in thinking about practices that can be helpful in developing their spiritual lives. Catawba student Cyonna Hallums of Clinton, Md. described her experience at one of these retreats like this in a November 2003 article in the Catawba student newspaper, The Pioneer:

“If you ever feel yourself disconnecting from your spirituality, try to attend a spiritual retreat with Dr. Clapp. It’s much more than a hike in the mountains….It’s very hard not to connect with nature when you stand on top of the massive mountain, underneath the sun or under the shade of the rocks or caves. You learn to appreciate all that God has created….There was a presence of peace and contemplating about life. Dr. Clapp touched twelve more live that weekend.”

Students were involved in several Theological Exploration of Vocation Mini-Retreats throughout the year, one which went off as scheduled despite a late January snowstorm.

One of the most publicized projects of the Lilly Center this past year was the March colloquium on campus featuring author David Bornstein, who studies and writes about social entrepreneurs and their impact on societies. Members of the college and local community attended both his lecture and workshops and were able to engage in a collective dialog about social entrepreneurship. Hearing Bornstein’s description of the way ordinary persons have used their skills and talents to successfully bring about significant change provided encouragement and motivation for those attending.

According to Clapp, one of the most significant developments on campus involved the Liturgy Team initiative. With leadership from Lilly Scholarship recipients, two groups were formed to lead and provided music for campus worship services. Clapp attributed an increase in attendance at campus worship services to a student-organized contemporary music team and multicultural ensemble.