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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact


When you were in college, what would you have said if someone asked, “What is your vocation?” Would you have named your future career? Perhaps your plans for single, married or religious life? The Callings program at the University of Dayton gives students a different perspective — focusing their attention on arguably the most important time of life: right now.

“People think of vocation and think too far ahead,” said John-Paul Bugada, a junior chemical engineering student and one of two student directors for the 2022 summer Callings program. “But right now, we’re called to be students and to fully engage in that. Part of that is preparing for the future, but it’s also about making the most of your time here and now.”

Bugada is joined by Anna Kopsick, a junior psychology major from Hollywood, Florida. As student directors they joined Callings as participants their first year, then as leaders the summer before their sophomore year. They spoke about the impact of Callings while performing service work at the Mission of Mary Cooperative, a Dayton-based urban farming nonprofit that transforms vacant land plots into vegetable gardens with neighborhood partners to sustainably develop the community. Seeing Bugada and Kopsick work and interact with participants, it was clear they were inspired to be a part of the program.

“The Callings program is about allowing students to see where God is calling them in this chapter of their life,” said Elizabeth Montgomery, director of the Callings program and campus minister for Christian leadership and vocation. “Callings provides incoming students a rich way to learn about the heart and soul of the University of Dayton and orient themselves to, not only the Marianist charism of the University, but ways they could learn, lead, serve and pray while they are here.”

During their day of service this year, Kopsick explained that one of the student leaders gave a talk earlier in the morning telling participants how the simplicity of service can reveal beauty in life without having to be a huge, dramatic project. Small projects of service can be life-changing when performed purely. Bugada agreed and described service as an active prayer.

Together they are serving as directors for the week, focusing on logistics as well as inspiring a small group of student leaders and about 80 incoming first-year students who are the participants this July. The timing of Callings provides another great benefit.

“Introduction to campus life is an attractive feature of Callings, becoming familiar with campus, eating in the dining halls and getting to know some of your classmates even before orientation,” said Kopsick, who came to UD knowing no one. “For me, it was really important to be able to start establishing a community on campus.” 

Both directors were more than happy to serve in the program that has given them so much while helping them understand and adapt to their own callings during their time at UD. For Kopsick, it helped her when she decided to change majors.

“I’m kind of a person who thought, ‘Change? Something bad must be happening.’ So being in Callings and embracing the intentionality of living in the moment of this four-year student experience helped me embrace what I want to learn about, and what I really want to do,” she said.

And Bugada has seen his own growth throughout Callings. “Experiencing the different roles — from participant to leader to director — has helped with my path through college. It changes and it evolves,” he said.

“You might be needed in different roles and support different people. But you can grow and change while keeping your core values,” said Bugada. “The faith aspect of Callings helped me explore that element of personal growth and understand its importance to me.”

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