“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It’s a question people start asking you when you’re a child—and one that can linger throughout adulthood without any easy answer.
In “Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work” (Penguin Press, 2016), StoryCorps founder Dave Isay presents 53 interviews with people who share their personal stories of how they discovered work that reflects their passion.
Chosen as the University of New Orleans’ Common Read book for the 2017-18 academic year, “Callings” will give first-year students the opportunity to read and think about the nature of passion in work—and hopefully to begin exploring what finding meaningful work means for their own lives. Among those who share their stories of self-discovery are a teacher, a street corner astronomer, a public defender, a drawbridge tender, a salmon slicer, an OBGYN and a neurosurgeon.
Mike Hoffshire, assistant director for First Year Student Success said the book stood out as a great conversational starting point for first-year students embarking on their journeys into higher education and beyond. The book will be required reading in all first-year writing classes, where students will be expected to complete their first narrative essay in response to the topic, “What is my passion?” It will also be a source of discussion in University Success 1001 courses, which are required for incoming students.
“As they arrive on college campus for the first time, many of them are unsure about their path,” Hoffshire said. “They wonder, ‘What will I do with my college degree?’ ‘Is this the right major for me?’ This book can become a catalyst for helping them think about their own passions and callings in ways they might not have expected.”
“Callings,” documents conversations recorded for StoryCorps, the 14-year-old oral history project that seeks to collect audio interviews between people who know one another about things that matter to them. StoryCorps interviews are collected and archived by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Hoffshire said UNO students will be encouraged to record their own stories about finding their passions and upload them to StoryCorps. His office is also planning an event in the fall that will bring together students and people featured in the book to talk about their personal journeys to finding meaningful work.
As Isay warns in his introduction to the book, the path to finding one’s calling is not often easy.
“This pursuit takes discipline, resilience, enormous sacrifice, and tremendous hard work,” Isay writes. “At those moments when the fear creeps in and you’re unsure of where to go or what to do next, remember to trust your instincts always. Relentlessly follow your curiosity, allow yourself to be led by what truly moves you.”
Common Read was developed as a way to encourage first-year students as well as other UNO students, staff and faculty, to engage in a shared experience while sparking meaningful dialogue about topics of wide-reaching concern. It is organized collaboratively as a partnership between the University’s first-year writing program and its first-year experience program. This year, it also includes partnerships with the Office of Career Services and the Office of Alumni Affairs.
Candace Stanton, student success counselor in the Office of Enrollment Services, said the book was selected with broad input from faculty and finalized by a committee of eight representatives from faculty, staff and students that, in addition to Hoffshire and Stanton, included:
Shelby Richardson, instructor and chair of First-Year Writing in the Department of English; Janet Crane, associate librarian, professor and chair at the Earl K. Long Library; Bryan Washington, graduate assistant UNIV 1001; Tracy Benoit, student success counselor in First Year Experience; Natalie Temple, assistant director in the Office of Student Involvement & Leadership; Sarah Berry, assistant registrar; Ashley Hemm, coordinator associate of First-Year Writing and Creative Writing and instructor in the Department of English; Caroline Noyes, associate provost; Mariah Bertrand, student.
In the fall, the University will provide a copy of the book to all students for whom the book is required reading.