So…it has been some time since we last posted. We promise to be around a bit more in the months to come!
If you’re like most Whitworthians, you’ve thought about vocation and calling over the past several years. Sometimes, there’s probably been pressure or stress connected to those thoughts, and at other times, you’ve felt freed by the thought of pursuing your passions. In fact, Dale recently wrote for us about the joy connected to finding our vocation and how our service to others makes life much more rich.
What are your thoughts about this article from a recent Relevant publication?
A note from Dale Soden, professor of history
You may remember that we tried to get you to think about the idea of vocation on more than one occasion while you were undergraduates. We talked about the importance of identifying your gifts and following your passions. In almost every case, and this is still true, students want to apply it to their choice of a major or a career.
All of that makes sense, but I continue to think that there are a couple of ways that may be as important or perhaps even more important than what career should I pursue.
I just got back from a funeral of an 86 year-old gentleman, World War II veteran, who lived up in Chewelah but ended up coming to probably more Whitworth public lectures with his wife than any other person I can remember. His memorial service was striking for what it said about what mattered to him and how he thought about vocation. He indeed had several “careers” but he developed a passion for books, rocks, ideas, and teaching English to refugees. He faithfully taught English as a second language at his church for many years. At his service, scores of people wanted simply to say thank you to him and his wife for their simple but powerful sense of calling and vocation to the people around them.
Vocation is all about finding joy in doing something for others. Vocation provides a sense of meaning and purpose for what it is that we love to do. In the oft-quoted words of Frederick Buechner, “the vocation for you is the one in which your deep gladness and the world’s deep need meet.” So it’s never too early to take stock of what you are doing or what you might do for others because you love doing it. I guarantee that your life will be the richer for it.
On behalf of my faculty colleagues, thanks for staying connected to Whitworth. We miss you.
by Josie Camarillo, ’14
Though he first began dancing as a child, it wasn’t until he was in college that Rick Davis, ’03, really caught the “dance fever.” Now, Davis, a native of Tigard, Ore., keeps in step in Portland, Ore., working as a technician by day and teaching dance nights and weekends.
As a competitive dancer, he won second place with his partner at the 2010 USA Dance National DanceSports Championships in the Adult Silver International Standard Division (Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep). Since July 2012, Davis has also been ranked as an Intermediate level competitor in West Coast Swing through the World Swing Dance Council. We caught up with him to learn more about his passion for dance and where that has taken him in life.
Can you tell us a little bit about your time at Whitworth?
I majored in computer science information systems following the networks track, and my minor was in theatre. I was also in the Whitworth and jazz choirs. I was the first swing dance team leader for Jubilation, and I participated in many of the other Jubilation dance groups, too. The most influential classes for me were all of those ballroom dance courses I took over and over and over again with Janie Edwards. Janie’s spark for life, people, and a love for dancing inspired me to pursue a future with dance. My senior year, I had a really great time serving as an RA in Stewart Hall, and also acting as president of the newly formed Ballroom Dance Club.
How did Whitworth play a role in your love for dance? How long have you had a passion for dance?
People ask me all the time how I became so good at ballroom dancing, and I tell them it’s because I spent four years practicing the same basic patterns two to three times a week in college. It was fast and easy for me to learn because I had previous jazz, tap, and ballet experience from my childhood. During my first two years though, I was terribly embarrassed to label myself as a dancer. With so many gender biases about dance, I was scared that my masculinity and sexuality would perhaps be unfairly questioned by others. Eventually, I was able to fully embrace my love for dancing and decided that it was my true calling, and therefore had no reason to feel any shame. I believe it was my junior year at Whitworth when I attended my first dance competition. After that I had “the fever,” and it never went away.
Can you tell us a little bit about your jobs as a technician and as a dance instructor? Have you always wanted to teach dance?
I work as a technician at David C. Smith and Associates, which is an aerial photography and digital mapping small business in Portland, Ore. I specialize in scanning high resolution digital color images of aerial photos, and I also use software for making seamless orthophoto maps. It’s a very specialized business. This past summer, I mapped a large section of the Columbia River Gorge, which spanned an area covering both The Dalles and Multnomah Falls in one seamless high resolution image.
For a long time I did not want to teach dancing, because I thought that if it became my work, I would no longer enjoy it. That has not been the case for me, as my passion for dance has skyrocketed ever since it has become my secondary profession, and I will always consider myself a student of dance. Currently, I teach ballroom, swing, and Latin dancing in Beaverton, Ore. at Tatyana’s Ballroom. I teach group classes, private lessons, and also host dance parties there as an independent instructor with Linda Springstead, a well-known master teacher and owner of DanceWell Ballroom. Additionally, I volunteer to teach West Coast Swing for the Portland Swing Dance Club.
What is it like leading a “double life” working as both a technician and a dancer/dance instructor?
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, but ultimately I love what I do. Both of my jobs have a lot of flexibility in hours now, so I can spend as much or little time as I want focusing on training and promoting my dance activities. Usually I am very calculated in how I proportion my time between lessons and other work. One of the best things about dance is that it is one of the most natural ways in life to release stress, socialize, improve memory, and exercise all at once, which is fantastic for overall health.
What would you suggest to people who are interested in taking dance classes?
Don’t have high expectations. Instead, have fun. Never compare yourself to others. Only compare your progress to your own previous abilities. Frustration and negativity is the number one obstacle to learning anything. I don’t believe there is such thing as a natural born dancer. There are those who frequently train and practice, and those who don’t. Another piece of advice I would say it to not get hung up on mistakes or perfection. Everybody makes mistakes. It’s how well the dancer recovers from mistakes, and the attitude the dancer puts forth that makes the difference between mediocre and excellent.
What advice do you have for other young college graduates who are pursuing their passions?
This is the social media age, which is the evolution of social networking. Be active and diligent in constantly promoting your goals everywhere. Don’t be afraid to dream big, and share those dreams with the entire world. I’m amazed when I find out sometimes years later that somebody I met at a dance has been reading my online posts all along. Often times, opportunities come up simply because somebody saw a picture or a video I posted on Facebook. Everyone I meet in my life wants me to succeed, and often times they are willing to help me reach those goals as if I just put the word out.
If you would like to learn more about Rick’s dance classes, please, visit his website at www.abandonedadventures.com/rickdavis
In August 2012, Luis Lopez, ’09, received an email asking if he was interested in applying to be a fellow with the Obama campaign and within a few short weeks, he was working long hours to propel the President’s reelection efforts.
By September 8, the Obama campaign promoted him to one of five Deputy Regional Field Directors for Region 5. This region includes Pasadena, Calif. and the surrounding areas all the way down to San Diego. Lopez was one of two directors working out of Pasadena. Lopez had always wanted to work on a political campaign, but never took the opportunity until after he graduated with his master’s degree.
Raised in Los Angeles, Calf., Lopez was recruited to Whitworth by his high school friend Alyson Tucker,’07. Lopez graduated from Whitworth with a degree in political science. He was involved in ASWU, the Whitworthian, the Natsihi, theatre, radio, and providing campus tours to prospective students. Lopez is also very thankful to have had the opportunity to study abroad in England, Scotland, and China during his four years at Whitworth and notes professors Dale Soden, Julia Stronks, John Yoder, and Patrick Van Inwegen all as being influential during his undergraduate days.
In July 2011, Lopez began his studies at Syracuse University’s television, radio, and film master’s program. As part of his program, Lopez was required to have an internship, so after graduation from Syracuse in June 2012, he traveled across the world to Mumbai, India.
“All of my classmates looked at internships either in L.A. or somewhere on the East Coast. I wanted a unique experience, so I sought out programs that took place abroad,” Lopez says. “Once I found out about the India internship program, I knew I had to take the opportunity.”
Lopez’ internship in India was a particular highlight. As an intern in the television industry, Lopez worked on a show called Coke Studio @MTV and transcribed episodes of a makeover show to help translate the show into other languages. Lopez notes that “the most beneficial aspect of the internship was observing and seeing how an Indian television show operated.”
Upon returning to the United States in July, he hunted for a job until he received a position with the Obama campaign. As a fellow with the campaign, Lopez had certain goals to meet each week like meeting a quota of hours making phone calls. Then, as the Deputy Regional Field Director, he primarily trained others on the campaign and contacted locals in the Pasadena area to ask them to volunteer.
“The most rewarding aspect of the job was working with the volunteers that would come into our office,” Lopez says. “It just blew me away to see people so dedicated to a cause!”
Other high points of the job included meeting a number of celebrities and being introduced to senior advisor to the president, Valerie Jarrett. Lopez was also present at a fundraiser in Los Angeles where there were appearances by President Obama himself, Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, Jennifer Hudson, and Earth, Wind, and Fire, among other celebrities.
On the other end of the spectrum, working an average of 12 hours each day, seven days per week, was simply exhausting for Lopez and others on the campaign. It was the first time that he had a job that demanded so much time. Now that the election is over, Lopez is glad that the long hours of making phone calls are over. “We did what we set out to do,” he says, “which was to re-elect the President.”
Lopez is not sure what is next for him, but hopes to go back to school soon to earn his PhD and then teach at the college level.
by Dustin Benac, ’11
Story: it is that which captivates us, that which can move us beyond expression, that which speaks to our soul in a language it did not know. In his book, Many Colors, Soong-Chan Rah writes, “The power of story is the power to change how we view the world and our place in it.” The mystical intertwining of plot, characters, and events, the rhythmic cadence of a mesmerizing voice around a fire, the whisper of school children, the gentle expression of a mother to her child. It has the power to move men and women to action, elicit the most tender emotions, and alter the trajectory of one’s life. From our youngest memorable moments to our closing hours on earth, story surrounds us.
For the last two years I have had the privilege to listen to and tell the stories of others. Stories of resisting racial injustice during Apartheid South Africa, fighting tirelessly for the abolition of nuclear arms, looking for hope on the streets of New York, running while two students fire on their peers at Columbine High School; these are some of the plot lines and for brief moments I have been the privileged recipient of these stories. Somewhere in this process, I’ve been transformed.
This journey began my junior year at Whitworth when Dr. Terry McGonigal asked me to collaborate with him on his forthcoming book about Shalom Theology. Although I did study Theology, I was an unlikely candidate as my knowledge of shalom did not extend much beyond knowing that it was Hebrew for peace. Yet my task was straightforward: first, to provide “student perspective” on the academic content, and second, to apply the content by means of personal applications and shalom biographies.
The latter seemed safe and uncomplicated—identify, interview, and write biographies about individuals who exemplify a particular theme of shalom. I didn’t realize it would change me.
My first call was a halting conversation with Whitworth Alumnus Jena Lee Nardella about her work with Blood:Water Mission. As she spoke about her experience starting Blood:Water Mission with Jars of Clay, living a life with one foot firmly rooted in Nashville and the other in the Savannahs of Africa, I found myself profoundly humbled and thankful for her story; I began to see differently.
As I listened to their stories, my vision expanded. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson from Two-Futures Project shared about his commitment to nuclear abolition, Kevin Parker who was at Columbine during the Columbine shootings shared about this experience and what later led him to the Washington State House of Representatives, Soong-Chan Rah shared about the joys and challenges of leading an interracial church, Paul-Gordon Chandler shared about serving in Cairo, Egypt during the Egyptian revolution and his wonderful Muslim friends who protected him, Peter Storey shared about his role in the Anti-Apartheid movement in south Africa and his profound encounter with John Wesley. Though these were the stories of men and women who had done great things, they didn’t see it as such. For them, each day was a day of faithfulness and service.
As I listened to their stories, I encountered wonder in both the ordinary and painful. Equally captivating were the stories of men and women whose lives were characterized by everyday gratitude and faithfulness, even amidst incredible suffering. A father shared about losing his daughter, wife, and mother in a single car accident and the decisions he made to love his children even after unbearable loss. A young man shared about how he declined a chance to play pro-football in order to work as a train conductor and take care of his family. A couple shared about losing their 18-year-old son, the grief that followed, and how today they are sustained by a new hope for the resurrection. In everyday places, in everyday neighborhoods, these stories are being written.
As I listened to their stories, I saw Jesus Christ take form. With each story I was struck by a profound sense of the faithfulness, vision, and compassion that animated each of these individuals’ lives. I learned it was not by chance as each shared how their commitment to Jesus informed both their everyday decisions. I realized it was this commitment that enabled them to live with distinct zeal, passion, and faithfulness.
As I listened to their stories, I was transformed. I began to understand my story in relation to theirs. As I encountered similar circumstances I found myself recalling their decisions, their struggles, their faithfulness. In this there was a wonderful security in knowing that I was not alone.
Story: it is the fabric of our lives.
Dustin is a graduate student at Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C. To learn more about Dustin and the forthcoming book about Shalom Theology, follow Dustin on Twitter @dustindbenac and the book @worldpeace_now.
by Josie Camarillo, ’14
After working as a reporter in her hometown of Elko, Nev. for a year after graduating from Whitworth, Andrea Glover, ’11, felt drawn to the field of social work because of how the profession values the stories and experiences of each individual and because of the diversity of a social worker’s responsibilities.
Having always had an interest in the British social welfare system, it did not take long for Glover to begin researching graduate programs in the United Kingdom. She finally decided on Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, where she knew she would have the opportunity to work alongside the School of Social and Political Science’s faculty who are frequently asked by the Scottish Parliament to consult on draft framework policies. Glover also works for the University of Edinburgh’s Alumni and Development Office, contacting alumni to ask for donations to the Edinburgh Fund, which provides bursaries and grants to students.
Glover graduated from Whitworth with a degree in journalism and mass communication and a minor in visual communications. She also hosted a Whitworth.fm radio show with her roommate, Felicity Brigham, ’12, led Young Life at Salk Middle School, and traveled to New York City and Washington, DC on Whitworth’s Media Impact trip led by Jim McPherson, and spent two of her years at Whitworth as the production manager of The Whitworthian campus newspaper.
Glover feels blessed to have had the opportunities that she did while living in Spokane. She appreciates how the communication department, and especially Professor Jim McPherson, challenged and encouraged her during her time at Whitworth.
Living in Scotland has certainly been a new experience for Glover. She lives in on the Royal Mile, one block away from Edinburgh Castle, in a flat that was built in the 1600’s. She loves living in a historical, international city where she can walk across the cobblestones to class and hear dozens of languages. It still feels a bit like home though with a Starbucks on nearly every corner and weather similar to Spokane’s. Glover says it is the small things that usually remind her that she is no longer in the United States though. Cilantro is called coriander. Zucchini is referred to as courgette. Measurements are in milligrams and litres (which Glover still has not gotten used to). Stores are much smaller, and in order to satisfy a craving for pumpkin anything, Glover has to seek out a specialty American shop, because pumpkin puree is not sold anywhere else.
The most difficult part of studying abroad for Glover is the lack of a support system. “I’d imagine this is a universal feeling when you move to a new place,” she says. “But moving to another country, studying on a professional course, and having to relearn all the statutory laws and responsibilities of social workers as well as the set of unwritten, cultural aspect…was quite daunting the first six weeks.”
Despite missing her American friends and families, Glover’s advice to anyone who wants to study abroad after undergrad is to try to bond with people of other nationalities. She says it will greatly enrich any study abroad experience, and it has allowed her to be more adept at working with different cultures and viewpoints.
Glover is set to graduate with her master’s in social work in September 2014. After graduating, she plans to move to England in hopes of joining a Community Mental Health Team to provide specialized services to individuals with mental health needs. Someday, she wants to find a position in academia as well as to return to the United States. Glover has found that the United Kingdom practices a very successful inter-agency model and would like to eventually be able to apply what she learns abroad to further good practice in social work in the United States.
by Josie Camarillo, ’14
Born in South Korea and raised from toddlerhood in the Seattle area, Kyle Kim, ’11, knew since high school that he wanted to work in international journalism. This was a dream that he continued to pursue as an Act Six student leader at Whitworth. Kim majored in journalism and mass communications. He also worked as a cultural diversity advocate in Arend and as staff member of the Whitworthian newspaper during his time at Whitworth. In addition, Kim spent a year in Australia doing a media program through ISEP.
His most influential class during his time at Whitworth was a general introduction to political science class with Julia Stronks. Kim says that class helped with life lessons beyond academia and reaffirmed his natural proclivity toward inquisitiveness and critical thinking, which have been essential to his career as a journalist.
“At first it was scary knowing that if I publish something online it’s going to be viewed instantaneously by a large number of people,” Kim says. “So just making sure not to make any mistakes is part of the challenge every day.”
Though fond of Whitworth, he also felt that Spokane was too small for him. Kim loves living and working in the fast-paced locale of Boston. He loves big cities and says that in many ways Boston is like his hometown of Seattle. Having a bicoastal family, Kim frequently travels back and forth across the country between the two cities.
Kim’s advice to other young alumni pursuing their vocational dreams is to “find people in your industry” and to network even while still in college. Especially in his competitive field, Kim says that having practical skills and being aggressive are more valuable than earning a 4.0 grade point average. He found it essential to find and pursue good mentors at Whitworth and beyond to launch him into the position he has today.