A Vocation Story: Sara Anderson
Finding and living my vocation has been all about exploration, learning, unlearning and “locking in” to a project or goal. Some things were easy to identify in this journey: I loved children and education, music and singing. Others required trying new things to see if they fit with my strengths and motivations.
With experiences and opportunities, I make a habit of locking into something I want to learn and then following through until I’m satisfied with the outcome. One example of this was when our family began exploring ways to assist children and families in accessing education and basic needs. I quickly learned there were multiple models for assisting communities – some more sustainable and empowering than others. “Locking in” to an organization that met my expectations meant choosing a community-based model. This choice opened a world of opportunity and allowed me to travel and meet the needs of others. My family and I helped communities in multiple countries, and I was able to engage in international community and meet those doing the good work on the ground.
Unlearning is an interesting concept, right? I now recognize that an important part of living my vocation is just that…questioning what I have been taught, and checking if the things I have believed are true. Unlearning means realizing some things taught to me growing up may not be true to my values.
Living my unique vocational journey involves intentional exploration, openness, and humility. Sometimes it requires all of my energy and can lead to frustration. My goal is to keep trying, learning, and using what I have experienced to build on, for the next opportunity.
My advice – be open and curious as you begin to define and follow what vocation means for you. If you ever want to share your journey with me – please reach out! I’m always up for a life conversation.
Sara Anderson is the Assistant Director of the Career Center
A Vocation Story: Laurie Butz
The message was clear: “You will never amount to anything!”
“Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Life was good as a kid … except for the moments it wasn’t. Oftentimes, I questioned God’s love for me. Why would a good and all-powerful God allow bad things to happen? It took me a long time to understand that although God allows bad things to happen, He doesn’t cause them. Bad things happen because the world is broken, because people are broken.
“All things work together for good for those who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
God has both a plan and a purpose for each one of us. I believe wholeheartedly that I would not be the person I am today if not for the adversity I faced throughout my lifetime. It is because of my brokenness – not in spite of it – that God is able to use me for His good.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10
God has gifted me with an abundant love for children and a heart for service. Loving and serving God’s children is my vocation, my calling. For 27 years, I have been blessed to work with amazing kiddos, ages 4 to 22 (and beyond). Each one I have loved deeply and served to the best of my ability.
“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.” Psalm 138:8
It is a blessing that my vocation aligns with Grand View’s mission to engage, equip and empower students to fulfill their individual potential and serve society. To know that God actively works through me in positive and powerful ways – because of my brokenness – is both humbling and healing.
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16
I realize now that worldly measurements of success are irrelevant. Whether or not I “amount to anything” – in my eyes or in anyone else’s – simply doesn’t matter. What matters is that my kiddos, here at Grand View and at home, feel so loved and empowered that they not only shine their own light into this world, but also spark the flame within others.
Laurie Butz is a Completion Coach with GV Complete
A Vocation Story: Erin Kim-Cho
In my life, I look up to a family line of educators in Korea. My grandmother and both parents taught in public schools, and in third grade, my family moved to the U.S. so my father could pursue his doctoral degree. He would eventually go on to serve as vice minister of education in Korea when we returned home before I began high school.
The early years living in the U.S. were extremely difficult for my immigrant family. We had no access to healthcare because of financial burden. I received free/reduced lunches at my elementary school, and learned at a young age what it is like to feel “othered” by society, simply because of my appearance and culture. These experiences fostered a lifelong desire to make a difference in the lives of other immigrant families.
By 2020, I had returned to the U.S. independently, earned my own PhD in Mass Communications, and began working as the Director of Communications for EMBARC, a refugee-led service agency. In March, the COVID-19 pandemic hit suddenly and brutally: at a time when refugees and immigrants across Iowa needed critical public health information, we were forced to shut our doors.
Ninety-five percent of our clients across Iowa were considered essential workers in food processing and other service roles. If we were going to get people through this, we needed mass media. In under a month, I led the launch of a new crisis response website and daily news videos narrated in 13 languages and dialects. Accessible information was vital to keep people safe and connected.
The pandemic waned, but I never left behind the needs of immigrant and refugee communities. After accepting my faculty position at Grand View University, I continued community work with EMBARC and the Korean-American Society of Iowa (KASI).
Supported by the Centers for Disease Control, I’ve led research on how public health outreach can be improved for refugees and immigrants living in rural communities. I currently serve as Associate Director of Refugee and Immigrant Voices in Action (RIVA), supporting strategic planning and coordination of the organization’s programs, policy positions and external communications.
By combining my experiences as an academic and immigrant, I have uniquely mentored rising communications professionals (both from immigrant/refugee cultural communities, and the mainstream community), and encouraged them to explore better ways of serving our neighbors through media. Through it all, I hope to motivate the next generation of leaders – including my own three girls.
Dr. Erin Kim-Cho is an Assistant Professor of Communications
A Vocation Story: Kate Faas
I have been a person of Christian faith as long as I can remember. I grew up in a small, country Methodist church, then a big flashy Baptist church, then attended an ELCA Lutheran-affiliated college. I have witnessed how different kinds of people believe in and relate to God. This led to years of exploration that helped me to examine my faith and own it for myself. It also led to my ability to have space in my faith for all kind of believers, wherever they are in their journey.
I regularly interact with high school and college students who are searching for where they belong in God’s story. Using my gifts of empathy, listening, prayer, encouragement, affirmation, and vocational discernment, I truly enjoy helping guide them in their faith and life.
- Empathy – I “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn,” holding and validating peoples’ emotions.
- Listening – holding space for where people are at in their spiritual journeys, regarding all positively and warmly.
- Prayer – bringing others’ concerns and joys before God (sometimes when they feel they cannot do it themselves).
- Encouragement – giving heart to others, cheering them on.
- Affirmation – naming and celebrating the good gifts and qualities I see in others.
- Vocational discernment – I am a personality and values assessment nerd. I love to help others better understand themselves so they can find their best ways forward. I LOVE when others LOVE stuff! Seeing others geek out and find where they fit brings me great joy.
Bonus: Singing – leading others in worship. Speaking to the heart through music.
Kate Faas is the Director of the Nexus Institute in Campus Ministry
A Vocation Story: Ruthie Jahn
When being asked about vocation, my first thought is my passion and desire to help people. I can trace this back to two of the biggest influences in my life: my faith and my father.
My father is the kind of man who always puts his family and friends needs in front of his own. He’s someone you can always count on for loving and honest advice, not always what you want to hear, but what you need to hear.
My father is an attorney in our local community and has been practicing for almost 30 years, using his gifts in a legal setting to help better people’s lives.
When I first started at Grand View, I had no idea what I wanted to go into or what I wanted to pursue in the future. All I knew is that I wanted to use my gifts to help others, just as my father does. Before attending college, people would ask me if I wanted to go into law like my father, and my immediate answer was no. But in my second semester of my sophomore year, I took Forensic Psychology with Professor Patty Williams. Throughout the course, assignments, and discussions in class, I gradually came to discover and focus in on my passion and desire to help others in a legal setting. It was a gradual thing, a culmination of my faith. my father’s subtle guidance and my double major studies in business and psychology.
In my time at Grand View my faith, my parents, and the lessons I have learned will allow me to serve and help others while fulfilling my vocation.
Ruthie Jahn is a senior at Grand View – Majors: Marketing and Psychology
A Vocation Story: Dr. Rachelle K. Keck
It’s not about you. Also, it’s about you.
“It’s not about you.” I still recall with crystal clarity the day I read the opening sentence to Rick Warren’s mega-bestselling book, “The Purpose Driven Life”. This book focuses on the following concepts: Who is God? Who am I? And why am I here?
Vocation, or purpose, answers the “why am I here?” question. According to Warren, your individual answer is informed by many areas of your life. He uses the acronym SHAPE to help discern purpose: Spiritual Gifts (what gifts did God give you to help you minister to others), Heart (what do you love), Abilities (what are you good at), Personality, and Experiences.
Since reading Warren’s book, I have completed much personal development work to help answer the “why am I here?” question for myself, and I will likely do so for the remainder of my life. As of today, my personal mission statement, or vocation statement, is as follows:
God is inviting me to help people discern and design personal and professional lives of purpose and meaning while continually honing mine.
After nearly 20 years as a successful attorney, God called me into higher education, a space where I could live into my vocation. “Being a college president is such a hard job, with so many pressures and near-constant stress. How do you do it?” is a question I am asked often. My answer? “When God calls you to your purpose and you say ‘yes’, it’s no longer work, it’s vocation.” My vocation brings me great joy - it’s why I’m here, for as long as I’m here.
Rachelle Keck is President of Grand View University
A Vocation Story: Grant Knotts
Kids are often asked what they want to be when they grow up. My answer was basketball player, but this wasn’t really an option given my average height and below-average athleticism. My second answer was scientist and I am very happy settling for my “backup job.” It took a few failures along the way, but those setbacks proved valuable.
Failure one was getting cut from basketball during freshmen tryouts. My parents encouraged me to join the swim team instead, which inadvertently set me on a path to my current profession. The swim season went well and the coach asked if I wanted to be an assistant coach for a summer team. This opportunity helped me discover some skills and values I didn’t know I had.
Coaching swimming allowed me to practice patience, clarity of instruction, and helping motivate others to reach goals. It showed me that I like helping others find success. After every race, kids would ask, “What was my time?!” Seeing their faces after hearing they dropped two seconds was one of the best feelings I ever experienced. I still feel this way when a concept clicks for students in class and it’s just as rewarding now.
Coaching was also fun, and I determined that I wanted to have fun in whatever career I chose. It’s true I don’t get to wrestle a bunch of 8-year-olds or race overconfident 11-year-olds during a physics lab, but we still have fun. My students are excited to learn and have a good time, too. They even occasionally laugh at my physics jokes. I also get to work with passionate, encouraging, and helpful faculty and I am happy every day to come to such a supportive and fun workplace.
A second bit of fortune disguised as disappointment happened just before graduating from my doctoral program. I was struggling to find work and about to have my first child, so my wife and I moved in with her parents. I broadened my search to include teaching, which eventually lead to a full-time physics position at Grand View. I’m lucky I can use my love of science and math while working with excited, entertaining students and faculty. Even though this isn’t what I had in mind as a kid, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Dr. Grant Knotts is an Assistant Professor of Physics
A Vocation Story: Haley Peeler
As the director of the Career Center at Grand View, I get a rush whenever I hear the words, "I got the job!" Knowing that I was part of someone’s success brings me joy. So, what is my vocation? It’s my work. I consider myself fortunate to live my vocation daily, but this is not an accident; it is by design.
Growing up, I was encouraged to pursue my passions. I spent years honing skills in the arts, singing, dancing, even majoring in art. I dedicated my college years to creating, and now, 10 years later, here I am, Director of the Career Center, still creating. The mediums may differ, but the ideas are the same: research, gain inspiration from others, experiment with new techniques, consider the details and the big picture, layer work with meaning, ask for feedback, embrace vulnerability, edit frequently, and share confidently. Cue happy music.
Throughout college, I lived to create, working toward my career goals of owning my own photography business and becoming a graphic designer. I did both, and I hated both.
It took quitting my job, taking a 70% pay cut to work in a new field, becoming a shell of myself, and lots of self-reflection to realize what I was missing: vocation. For my own life to feel purposeful, I needed to help others improve theirs; I needed human connection.
Graduate school changed my life. It gave me a safe space to learn (and unlearn), to develop new skills, and to gain practical experience in a variety of work settings. It opened doors I did not know existed. As director of the Career Center, my strengths synergize to meet the needs of the world. Whether I’m helping students gain skills to secure jobs and internships, assisting employers in filling job openings, or leading staff and student workers in developing skills and doing meaningful work, I live my purpose every day.
I love to create; I live to serve.
Haley Peeler is the Director of the Career Center
A Vocation Story: Carlos Rodriguez Rosa
In my journey, my vocation revealed itself in a collection of moments that I didn’t know were shaping me until I was changed. It came in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the tremendous loss my family and I faced. But it wasn’t the tragedy that made me change my perspective, it was the way the people in my orbit helped me heal. In the wake of my hurt, it was the realization that I needed people that changed me. We all need people.
I was given the help, grace, and chances I needed when I needed them most. I received kindness in my darkest moments. Dr. Bobbi Olson gave me an extension on a test, Alex Piedras opened his doors to me, and Grand View itself helped me financially. I was allowed to stumble forward, slowly but surely, until I could rebuild my life and become my best self. And it was there, with that becoming, where I found my calling.
My vocation isn’t a concrete job or career, but a mission: to help others become their best selves. For me, it’s all about “paying it forward,” to give others what I was given. It manifests itself in many forms. As a teacher, I challenge my students to grow, but I also strive to extend kindness and be the kind of person I needed when I was in their shoes. As an admissions counselor, I work to help students find a path to higher education and have the chance to find their own vocation.
Finding a vocation is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Some people know what they want to do from the moment they take their first breath and others feel as it their purpose will never reveal itself. But sometimes you don’t know what you want until everything falls apart. Until it all hits you like a bullet train, and it all finally makes sense.
Carlos Rodriguez Rosa is a First-Year Multicultural Admissions Counselor & English Instructor.
A Vocation Story: Germain Sagbo
Six thousand sixty miles from here are my roots, the place my heart would first call home, a small third-world country called Togo. It’s a place where the people may not have much, but their hearts of full of love and faith.
I moved to the United States when I was four-years old, leaving behind my mother and not knowing it would be 13 years before I saw her again. On June 10, 2019, I found the first true “WHY” in life. My brother and I stepped foot on our homeland for the first time in 13 years. I could finally give my mom the hug I have longed to give for so many years. Joy filled the air and I praised the good Lord above for blessing us all every day until this day.
During that month in Togo there were many moments in which I realized how blessed I am. I saw my cousins sleep on the concrete floor outside in a little shed and being content with it. We hauled atop our heads gallons water from the well for us to use, and then heated it on a fire so that we could shower. The electricity went out every night, and I found it hard to sleep because it was so hot. I could go on and on. Despite this, however, I saw only grateful hearts and happiness. This was the life my family knew, yet I also knew how blessed I was in America. So, after this trip, my whole perspective on life changed.
They are the reason why I get up every day with a grateful heart, and why I try so hard in everything I do. I know the opportunity that I have, and I know they would do anything to be in my position. I have no choice but to keep going.
Germain Sagbo is a junior at Grand View – Major: Nursing
A Vocation Story: Steve Snyder
I started reading a poem at the start of class a few years ago. It creates an interesting liminal space that’s neither official class time nor non-class time. At the top of the hour, I ask the students to put away phones and I pull up a poem on the smart-board. Then I read the poem and ask, "Well what do you guys think? Did this one work for you or not?" We’ll chat about the poem for a minute. Sometimes I'll point out something interesting about the language or meter, but not always.
One day I shared Gerard Manly Hopkins' Pied Beauty, his prayer of gratitude for the particolored splendor of creation:
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
After reading it, I mentioned that how Hopkins said something was perhaps as interesting as what he said. Let's face it: “small pink dots lining the sides of German brown trout” is just not the same sonic or aesthetic experience as “rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim.” Those lovely long "Os" and the pop, pop, pop of "stipple upon" could not be more sensual or perfect praise of this world.
And as I was briefly losing myself in admiration of this line, I half-glanced up and saw a student on one side of the room staring at the poem on the board with that unself-conscious cocked head of wonder. Her mouth had fallen slightly open and almost in spite of herself she had begun to lean forward.
And that--right there--is what it’s all about. It wasn't part of the day's lesson plan and it sure didn't map to any of my course objectives. Truth be told, it won't even make her a better accountant, middle manager, or athletic trainer, but, heaven help me, seeing students grow suddenly curious about the something in this spare, strange, original world is what called me into this line of work.
Steve Snyder is a Professor of Humanities
A Vocation Story: Brady Wagner
When thinking about the word “vocation” many different thoughts come to mind: passion, desire, calling, and dreams. All of these things are associated with “vocation” but I have realized that a vocation in of itself is an opportunity not only to grow within a specific field, but the ability to grow as a person and with people in general.
Growing up I always understood the impact and importance of having meaningful relationships with people, and this is something that I carry with me even today, especially within the realm of business. Being personable, accountable and trustworthy are things that will get you far wherever I go.
My experiences growing up in a family of faith, as well as growing in my own faith here at Grand View, has taught me not only how to prepare myself for my future vocation, but also to understand that there is opportunity around us at all times to see and care for others as more than just another face or a number, but as a person who has actual value, and therefore an opportunity to grow, just like me.
Brady Wagner is a senior at Grand View – Majors: Business Analytics and Spanish
A Vocation Story: Josh Woods
Psychology is the scientific study of what it means to be human. We are like no other animal. We wear clothes, cook our food, and spend time in complex social situations. Why? We go to work or school, sit at stop lights, answer emails, read books, watch people pretending on tv and phone screens, and lay unconscious in our room for 1/3 of our life.
We get absorbed in theatrical productions, can be moved to tears by the clanging of instruments, and exercise for fun. Why? We stare at the stars, build rockets to the moon, and dive into the depth of the ocean even though we're not built for those environments. Why? Laughter and yawning are contagious and yet it’s impossible to tickle ourselves. We "love" athletes and celebrities who will never know our name. And we demand kindness from strangers while often giving impatience and judgment to those we don’t know.
Why? Why do we do these things?
Psychology is the only science bold enough to address all of these questions - from the big whys about the meaning of life to the smaller whys of how to be a good partner or parent. I chose to be a psychology professor because I wanted to spend the rest of my life exploring and understanding life’s great mysteries, hilarious conundrums, and ridiculous routines. What could be more fun than studying a science that wants to know why jokes draw tribal lines while pain and misery bring us together? I love learning about what makes us human and sharing it with others. I can’t think of anything more rewarding.
Dr. Josh Woods is a Professor of Psychology
A Vocation Story: Lewis Yacinich, Jr.
My vocation? I have really not tried to decipher that word in my career. I still do not know what I want to do when I grow up. The path to my current position is not straight. It began with a passion for playing the game of men’s fastpitch softball. Then having daughters, becoming a high school assistant softball coach, coaching my daughters, becoming a high school head softball coach, and pursuing the Head Coach position here at Grand View. I have been on this path for 33 years. Along this path, I was not mindful that this was a vocation. It was a passion that was sometimes in the forefront and sometimes on the back burner.
There are so many aspects to coaching: servant leadership, counseling, travel agenting, recruiting, budgeting, PR representation, communication, activism and even being a disciplinarian. I had no idea this is part of a vocation. So many things we teach and expect of our players just serve them well in life:
HARD WORK. Sometimes it gets rewarded and sometimes not. It takes perseverance to prepare even though you can never know the outcome in any given situation.
CHOICE. All of our players and their families have a choice to join the Grand View University Softball program. If they have a passion for the game and want to get better each day, I invite them to come and compete for a position. And when they do choose to join us, there are a few expectations: eliminate drama and play tough.
My greatest joy is when I don’t have to give instruction in a game and our team has success. Players invested, gave great effort and achieved great success, and all without my intervention. It was their success. I also love it when players earn a degree, move on in their lives and pass on their passion for softball. It was their success (I get to start over the following season).
I do what I do to help young people become productive citizens. Now that I have given Vocation some thought, this is my Vocation.
Lewis Yacinich, Jr., is GV’s Head Softball Coach and an Athletic Success Coordinator
A Vocation Story: Alec Zama
When I think about my vocation, two aspects come to mind: teaching and learning, and serving others. As I reflect on my life journey, I can identify various elements related to these two aspects throughout my life. As long as I can remember, I liked learning new things. This love of learning translated into my passion for teaching, which I have enjoyed for more than 20 years.
The second aspect of my vocation is serving others. Since my childhood my parents have always encouraged my brothers and I to help others. Having a sense of community while growing up instilled in me the importance of caring for others. Initially, most of my service to others focused on neighbors and relatives, but after moving to the US I understood I could make a difference in the lives of others beyond those closest to me in vicinity and in my heart. This influenced me to start Wings of Hope International, a non-profit organization, with the mission of serving the needy in Moldova. Through the efforts of those involved with Wings of Hope International, thousands of children, sick, and elderly have a better standard of living.
My vocation has been influenced by many people who have been in my life from parents, brothers, wife, relatives, teachers, and many others who have contributed to the discovery of my vocation. I believe God has gifted me in these two areas and He placed me in my current position at Grand View where I am stimulated intellectually by constantly learning new things and by sharing my knowledge with my students and by serving others through various endeavors in Iowa and outside of the US.
Dr. Alec Zama is a Professor of Business Administration and Economics