Chaplain’s Corner

BY REV. SCOTT M. KERSHNER, UNIVERSITY CHAPLAIN

With the end of the year nearly upon us, thoughts are turning toward summer. Many of you will have internships and other valuable opportunities for academic and vocational learning this summer. Your skill set will grow in impressive and useful ways. Such opportunities can be an important part of the college journey.

However, before you rush too quickly into resume-building mode, I’d like to offer another perspective on college summers. I encourage you to take opportunities to expose yourself to new things that may not have a direct relationship to your vocational goals as you currently define them.

Life has a tendency to unfold in unexpected ways, and the direction you think you are going will likely shift multiple times in the coming years. The more you can give yourself diverse experiences, the more you will grow as a person and discover what that direction might be.

I’ll give a personal testimony here. The summer after my junior year of college, I took a job as a wilderness-canoeing guide. I loved outdoor adventures, so spending a summer leading groups through the wilderness seemed perfect, but it didn’t have any direct relationship to my vocational aspirations. I was still figuring that out.

What I hadn’t expected was that I would discover “what I want to be when I grow up.” Much to my surprise, the experience awakened in me the desire to become a pastor. Creating a sense of community and trust among a group of people journeying through the wilderness—all deep Biblical themes, I discovered—connected deeply to the work of pastoral ministry. I hadn’t seen any of this coming. My vocational journey and life’s work began where I least expected it.

Give yourselves broad opportunities, and prepare to be surprised. You never know where they will lead. As Susquehanna Board of Trustees Chairman John Strangfeld puts it: “Life ain’t linear.”