Answering the call
Think back to your first week as a Flyer. Campus was just as unfamiliar as your roommate. The August sun took no mercy on you or your non air-conditioned dorm room. Everyone promised that the next four years would be the best of your life, and you believed them, but let’s be honest. The realities of starting college can make any place seem scary. Even the University of Dayton.
While this transitional period is normal and expected, it does not mean incoming students have to be blindsided by college life. Campus Ministry has been combatting first-year phobias for years, and this summer was no different.
In July, 50 incoming students were properly introduced to the University thanks to Callings. During this 4-day program, participants learned about themselves, met their future peers and became more familiar with the Dayton community.
According to Elizabeth Montgomery, coordinator of the program for Christian leadership, Callings focuses on four core principles— learn, lead, serve and pray. Through group activities, service opportunities and individual reflections, participants practice what it means to be members of a Marianist institution.
“Often, students coming who even have been Catholic may have never heard about the Marianists, and I really think that UD does such a great job at living out the Marianist charisms. [Callings] provides different touch points for them to hear about the Marianist charisms and values,” said Montgomery.
Sophomore Samantha Niewoehner added, “No matter which religious or faith tradition a student does or does not associate with, they are welcomed here at UD because of the Marianist values that are so eagerly sought after. It’s important for incoming students to be introduced to the Marianist values because they make up the atmosphere of the University and show all that we stand for.”
This summer, two sessions were led by a total of 30 past participants; 28 incoming sophomores and two incoming juniors. Recent memories from their own Callings experiences made it easy to relate to the incoming first-year students.
“I attended Callings last summer because I had a lot of anxiety coming into college and my mom thought this would help me. Thankfully, I listened to my mom’s advice because it was the best thing I could’ve done,” sophomore leader Katie Buescher said.
Maddie Calhoun had a similar experience, which also inspired her to become a leader.
“My Callings 2018 leaders had such a profound influence on my transition to college, and I loved being a part of the Callings program last summer. I knew I wanted to give that same awesome experience to incoming first-year students, so I applied to lead the 2019 program,” shared Calhoun.
The program fosters new friendships that often carry students beyond just the first semester.
“Callings isn’t just a retreat where you leave and never talk or see the people you engaged with. This program truly creates mini families for the participants to have while on campus. Everyone is always there for each other after the program ends, and that’s what makes me love it so much,” said sophomore Jayla Shepherd.
While every student’s reason for attending Callings varies, the end results are consistent. Callings participants begin their first year at UD with confidence— both in themselves and their new home.