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Loyola receives grant to enhance vocational discernment in Messina

| By Molly Robey

Loyola University Maryland’s distinctive first-year living and learning program, Messina, has been awarded a Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) Program Development Grant to deepen vocational exploration and discernment among undergraduate students.

The approximately $48,000 grant, which was awarded from the Council of Independent Colleges, will be used between May 1, 2021, and April 30, 2023.

“Through this grant opportunity, we will deepen our connection to and learn from peer institutions who value promoting undergraduate students’ intellectual and theological exploration of vocation,” said Carolyn Barry, Ph.D., associate dean for social services and graduate programs and professor of psychology. “That focus on vocation will enhance the experience for students in Messina, which offers an opportunity for self-discovery and exploration as students learn more about Loyola, Baltimore, and themselves.”

Messina is a distinctive first-year experience designed to assist students with adjusting to college life during their first year. Each first-year student engages in weekly seminars and enrichment sessions which provide opportunities for vocational discernment, reflection, and first-year transition activities. A faculty advisor, a mentor, and an Evergreen—or student leader—is assigned to each first-year student to assist with their transition and answer any questions they may have.

“Messina offers an introduction to the hallmarks of Jesuit education and to the key questions of how students will use their talents and strengths to serve others,” said Michael Puma, student development co-director of Messina. “This grant will allow us to both broaden and deepen our approach to vocational discernment education through pedagogical innovation, the use of technology, and our ongoing commitment to the care of each student.” 

Through this funding, six to eight new modules will be created to incorporate digital media and add curated assignments and/or activities into the Messina courses. The new modules will be developed by Messina faculty and mentors, chosen through a competitive process. In addition, the development of a video, “Vocational Exploration in Action,” will be used for faculty and staff development and recruitment. 

In addition, faculty and Messina Mentors will attend a two-day summer retreat in the summer of 2021 to become educated on best practices in promoting students’ vocational discernment, which in turn will assist with the development of their course materials. 

Learn more about Messina.

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