Lilly program changes to promote scholarship, leadership and “CVIL”ity

by Rachel GullStaff Writer

The Lilly Program, the organization students have gone to for vocational guidance for the past five years, has joined with Career Services to form the Center for Vocational and Integrated Learning, CVIL.

In 2002, a committee of students, faculty and staff decided to apply for a grant through Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation, an initiative of the Lilly Endowment Inc. Simpson became one of 88 schools to receive a $2 million grant, and Simpson’s Lilly Initiative for Vocational Exploration was born

Jan Everhart and Jim Hayes were new to Simpson when the program started, but on July 1, 2003 they were put in charge of administrating the Lilly program on Simpson’s campus.

“They basically said, ‘Here’s $2 million, now go spend it,'” Hayes, associate dean and director of CVIL said.

For the past five years that’s exactly what they’ve done. The initial funding will run out in May 2009, but the PTEV said it would give Simpson another $500,000 if the college was able to match that amount. Simpson did, and now CVIL has an additional $1 million that will fund programs through 2012.

With the initial funding, Simpson’s Lilly Program was able to fund 21 new programs. It started the Service Hub, funded a minimum of 16 Lilly internships each year and provided the Wesley Service Scholarship Program.

Lilly also gave faculty and staff members a chance to explore different vocations. Each year, 16 faculty members are able to participate in these programs.

Some of the original 21 programs don’t exist anymore. That is, however, exactly what was anticipated.

“Lilly said, ‘Fail miserably, but just get out there and see what works.’ So that’s what we have done,” Hayes said.

Best of both worlds

Last year President Byrd announced a strategic plan for the college that included five initiatives: intellectual and practical skills, integrative learning, living and working in a global context, leadership, and personal and social responsibility.

Many of these initiatives were already evident in the Lilly Program, but administrators decided to combine the program with Career Services to enhance both groups.

“CVIL is about the Lilly Initiative teaming up with Career Services to offer not just the answers to the big vocational questions, but also to address the career side of things,” Bobby Nalean, the leadership and service coordinator for CVIL, said. “It is the blending of the philosophical with the practical.”

Both the philosophical and the practical said they are thrilled about the two departments merging.

“This is an exciting change for us, really, because we are going to be encompassing Career Services and Service Learning Projects under one center,” Del Shepard, director of career services, said. “This will allow us all to better serve our students.”

Keeping in accordance with this, the program is hoping to add a half time internship coordinator sometime this fall. This person would work with students solely on internship opportunities. In addition, another new staff member has already been hired.

Nalean, a 2007 graduate of Simpson, worked at Simpson in a yearlong position through AmeriCorps VISTA, and was officially added to the Simpson staff on July 1.

Nalean helps to develop leadership and service opportunities on campus. He works with the Wesley Service Scholar Program, service learning and first year orientation service day. He also tries to seek out leadership divisions and programs throughout all areas of the campus.

Throughout the coming year, Nalean hopes to give students the chance to participate in different leadership programs. For instance, last year students participated in the Taste of Leadership Program, which gave them the opportunity to have a meal and a discussion with a leader in the community.

“A lot of our programs have a big impact on students,” Nalean said. “I experienced many of these programs as a student, and now I can look back and see how they shaped me. It’s nice to be helping students and making a difference in their lives.”

In turn, it seems that Simpson students are making a difference in the lives of those around them. Last year, Simpson students performed over 40,000 hours of community service. CVIL can help to coordinate any and all volunteer activities and is available if a group is looking for service activities but doesn’t know where to start.

CVIL offers scholarships

CVIL also provides funding to help students during internships and other experiential learning opportunities. However, CVIL’s scholarships may be one of the best kept secrets on campus, simply because most people assume that the Lilly Initiative is solely for supporting those interested in religious leadership.

“I’m amazed that more students haven’t applied for our scholarships,” said Hayes. “Some of the things that we support are religious, but not all.”

Hayes says that in reality, CVIL supports everyone on campus, giving each person the opportunity to search for his or her vocation in life.

“One of the ways to lead a happy life is to discover what we are passionate about and follow our dreams,” said Hayes, “but doing that in such a way that we are out there making the world a better place.”

The idea of making the world a better place is CVIL’s farthest-reaching goal, but it starts with individual students.

Nalean hopes that each student who leaves Simpson can be part of that goal.

“We want to have graduates leave here, not only with skills and knowledge, but also with the passion to make a difference in their communities after graduation,” he said.