February 2, 2023
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Students Explore Calling and Ethics
Montgomery, Ala.—On Friday, January 27, more than 100 Huntingdon College sophomores in the College’s CALL 200 class visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and considered, both individually and in groups, vocational discernment and ethical responsibility.
CALL 200, Introduction to Ethics and Vocation, is among three courses Huntingdon undergraduates complete on the topic of Vocation and Ethics as part of the core curriculum. The course includes strategies for vocational discernment, building upon the freshman-level CALL 100, College-Readiness and Vocation, and considers the role of ethical reasoning in any professional calling. The three-course series culminates in the junior year with CALL 300: Perspectives in Ethics and Vocation, further encouraging students along the path of living well.
Vocation and calling were introduced to the Huntingdon core curriculum in 2019. “The series of courses, totaling four credit hours, considers topics such as students’ gifts and abilities and a person’s social responsibilities to family, profession, community, and the world,” said Dr. Tom Perrin, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty. “With the College’s nearness to the National Memorial and consideration of ethics and social justice, the College provides, through the help of a grant from the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE), a day-long retreat for each sophomore student that includes touring the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and discussing what they learned from that experience.”
Students were provided copies of Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson’s book, “Just Mercy,” at the conclusion of the day. The books were a gift from the Marsha and Tom Moore Endowed Distinguished Lectureship on Equity, Justice, and Peace, which also funded Mr. Stevenson’s appearance as the inaugural lecturer in that series in fall 2022.
Sophomore Ashleigh Miller, a religion and psychology major from Daphne, Alabama, said she feels called to the profession of pastoral counseling. “This retreat gave me an understanding of how someone’s call is directly tied to ethical responsibility,” she said. “Bryan Stevenson emphasized during his lecture last semester that you need to have hope to be able to [affect] change. As someone who will help people who are struggling, giving them a biblical standpoint of ways to improve their lives, I see that hope as part of my calling.” The tragic history taught by the memorial did not deter her from finding hope for change. “I think you find hope when there’s awareness. When something is made public you have so many people who will support the need for change and who will strive to achieve it.”
“[Touring the memorial] was eye-opening to me,” said Lauren Watts of Birmingham, Alabama. “I learned a lot about my hometown, and it really opened my eyes to seeing and helping others.” Ms. Watts plans a career in athletic training.
Criminal justice major Virgil Crawford of Dothan, Alabama, feels a call to coach. Moved by the immensity of the tragedy he realized through touring the memorial, he said, “Nobody really understood how many people went through the beatings, lynchings, and other events like that—and to think that that wasn’t even all the names, that’s crazy. I think it’s important for me to tell young people that there’s more to history than what people tell us. You can only learn so much from others—you have to go and see it for yourself to get a real understanding.” Reflecting on humans’ capacity to inflict harm on other humans, he said, “That cruelty was taught to them. It was hate for no reason. No baby is born racist.”
Dillon Bryars, a religion major and history minor from Bay Minette, Alabama, said he spent the bulk of his time at the memorial locating the marker for his home county. When he found the marker, there was only one name on it. “What really hit home was that, as horrible as it was, it wasn’t as far removed as I thought—either in time or in proximity. In our reading for the class there’s a quote that ‘calling is where your own happiness and interests meet the world’s hunger.’ I believe we are all called to ministry. It’s all of our job to make people know that they are welcome at the table and that they are loved by their fellow humans.”
Huntingdon College is a coeducational residential liberal arts college of the United Methodist Church offering more than thirty undergraduate programs of study, an Honors Program, Presidential Fellows Program, Kingswood Initiative, choral and instrumental music programs, dance and cheer teams, student organizations including Greek life and Campus Ministries, 21 NCAA-Division III athletic teams, and coed ESports, new for fall 2023. The College also offers the Master of Athletic Training.