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Recommitment & Renewal | Vocational Discernment | Senior Capstone Experience | Supplemental Resources


“There is a Quaker saying ‘Let your life speak.’

Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it
listen for what it intends to do with you.
Before you tell your life what truths and values
you have decided to live up to,
let your life tell you what truths you embody,
what values you represent.”
-Parker Palmer

Background and Purpose:


In the same way that Bonners begin their experience with the Bonner Program through exploration, so too, do they begin their college career. This is a time for them to explore the world in which they live and to discover where their specific talents may be leading, or “calling” them. By the end of their second year of college, most Bonner Scholars will have declared a major and are beginning to focus more specifically on their career, or “vocation”. Juniors and seniors begin to critically examine how all of the pieces of their lives (academics, civic engagement activities, co-curricular experiences, spiritual and religious beliefs, and values) are interconnected. This prompts a quest to determine how they can live a life than honors who they are as human beings. This quest is the journey of vocational discernment.


The Bonner Foundation has defined vocation as:


“the ongoing process of discerning one’s life work

and its impact on local and global communities.”


The process of discerning one’s vocational calling is often a difficult task, especially when surrounded by the “noise and chaos” of campus life. Through conversations and activities focused on vocational discernment, Bonner Scholars will be encouraged to reflect on personal values and priorities, to identify a “life mission”, to establish a “vocational support network”, and to integrate vocational passion with civic engagement. In the Bonner Scholars Program, this ongoing discernment process will be directed through three key practices: Sophomore Recommitment & Renewal, Vocational Discernment Initiatives, and Senior Presentation of Learning/Capstone Experience.


Between the sophomore and junior years this conversation is evidenced in the Sophomore Recommitment & Renewal process. In the senior year the dialogue takes a more personalized and focused form as a Senior Presentation of Learning or Capstone experience. These two milestone events rest on a broader foundation of vocational calling/discernment initiatives that will guide students through the entirety of their college career.


It is important to remember that one of the Common Commitments articulated by the Bonner Foundation is “diversity”. It is in recognition of that commitment that a variety of approaches to the vocational discernment process are encouraged. Not only may the dialogue surrounding vocational initiatives vary based on the secular or religious nature of the campus context, but it may also change within a campus community based on the personal spiritual or faith paradigm held by each student.


Best Practices included in this site:


  • Recommitment and Renewal

    Recommitment and Renewal are times of reflection and celebration, respectively, that inspire students to deepen their commitment to and increase their energy for leadership and service.


  • Perhaps the essence of the recommitment process can best be captured by asking this question: “Is what I’m doing or about to do with the Bonner Scholars Program getting me closer to my objective?” The renewal process affords a student the opportunity to celebrate the continuation of his or her commitment to the Bonner Scholars Program.


  • Vocational Discernment Initiatives

    Vocational discernment initiatives provide an important framework for students as they form the structure of their present and their future. As students progress through college, their level of inquiry and personal reflection deepens and they begin asking the hard questions. Who am I and why am I here? What am I really passionate about and what am I good at? What am I supposed to do with my life?


  • Senior Presentation of Learning/Capstone Experience

  • The Senior Presentation of Learning/Capstone experience is both a process and an event that asks each Bonner to reflect on his/her experience and to articulate the communal and personal transformation brought about through his/her time and work as a Bonner Scholar while anticipating his/her place in the world.


  • This is a time for seniors to explore practical solutions for keeping in touch with other Bonners, meeting others who share similar values, accessing support resources, connecting with the Bonner Alumni Network for mentoring and networking, and learning how to draw upon themselves for inspiration. They also identify assessment, enrichment, and training resources to facilitate reflection in other venues so they may identify rewarding careers suited to their educational experience, skills, interests, and work preferences.

Supplemental Resources:


  • Pre-planned curriculum, trainings, forms, & handouts

    The Bonner Foundation has developed pre-planned curriculum and training modules which are designed to facilitate thought and dialogue related to issues of vocational exploration and career development. Other tools for guided and individual reflection are included.



  • Campus resources

    Several Bonner campuses have shared resources for their recommitment, vocational exploration, and senior presentation of learning programs. This is a great way to get creative ideas from Bonner colleagues!



  • Internet resources

    Numerous Internet resources are available, too many to count! Links to several reading group guides for book discussion groups as well as helpful career sites are included here.



  • Assessments

    There are several assessment tools available to assist students in increasing their self-understanding and identifying potential career paths. Brief overviews of some commonly used instruments as well as links to on-line assessments can be found here.



  • Tremendous opportunities for “professional development” are available to students through national conferences. Included here are a few that focus on issues related to vocational exploration and civic engagements.




  • Literature and Bibliographic resources

    There is a wealth of textual resources available in areas related to vocational exploration. Books included in the summary cover a variety of categories: calling; career; discernment; faith and discipleship; meaning, mattering & purpose; mentoring; Myers-Briggs; and vocation. Many of the books listed are being used in conjunction with campus “Theological Exploration of Vocation” programs.


Back to Implementation Guides Index.


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