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Center for Vocational Discovery to help students discover their purpose, live meaningful lives

Innovative program prepares students for their chosen field of study and helps them discover their life’s purpose

Kim Chaudoin  | 

Students working in a medical clinic.

One of the biggest questions many college students grapple with is what their purpose is in life.

Some come to college with a plan in mind for the academic field of study to pursue or what they want to do professionally after they graduate. But, others seek clarity on how their talents and passions align with career opportunities. 

Lipscomb University is launching a new program to help students not only prepare for a career but to discover their purpose and to inspire them to use their talents to serve others. 

Beginning this fall, Lipscomb’s new Center for Vocational Discovery (CVD) will take students on a four-year journey of life discovery that unifies their entire university experience. Each year of a student’s experience will have a specific focus and will be integrated into academics, student life and spiritual formation activities. The center will officially launch with the incoming freshman class this fall.

“We want our students to have a transformative experience that not only prepares them for their chosen field of study, but that also helps them discover their life’s purpose,” said Lipscomb President Dr. Candice McQueen. “The center will help students answer questions such as, ‘Who am I?,’ ‘How am I gifted?,’ ‘How can I use my chosen profession to serve others?,’ ‘How do I walk this out in the world?’ To do this the Center for Vocational Discovery will lead students through purposeful, integrated and shared experiences to help them discover their identity, purpose and vocation. We believe we are called to be a light in the world, and this is an important way to inspire and equip our students to do that well.” 

The Center for Vocational Discovery has been discussed in concept for some time, but will now be officially launched as part of Lipscomb Impact 360. In addition to providing a framework that shapes academic and campus activities, the Center for Vocational Discovery is also a physical place for students to gather and engage with mentors and other students among others. It will be located on the second floor of Crisman Administration Building. 

Engineering missions

Through the Peugeot Center for Engineering Service in Developing Communities in the Raymond B. Jones College of Engineering students and faculty use their skills to serve others.

We want our students to have a transformative experience that not only prepares them for their chosen field of study, but that also helps them discover their life’s purpose. — Dr. Candice McQueen

Four-Year Journey of Discovery

Through the center, students will embark on a four-year journey that begins as an incoming freshman and continues until graduation. Each year will have a specific focus and will be integrated into a student’s experience in a variety of ways connecting Bible, academics and student life to engage students in finding their God-given purpose as they explore their career aspirations and calling. The areas of focus and activities for each year in a student’s college experience are:

Year 1 Focus: Identity: Who am I? How am I gifted? 

The freshman year builds the foundation and will be integrated beginning with Quest Week.  Students will take strengths assessment and their Lipscomb Experience, Story of Israel, and Story of Jesus courses will begin to help them discern character traits that align with various occupations and interests.  Chapels, spiritual formation activities, workshops and retreats will also be utilized as part of the first year.

Year 2 Focus: Purpose: Why am I Here? Why does it matter?  

In the second year, students will explore the very important questions of purpose through workshops, opportunity exploration, cross-cultural discovery and spiritual formation activities. In addition, through the sophomore Bible courses, Story of the Church and Faith and Culture, students will learn through case studies on community, discernment, empowerment and mission.

Year 3 Focus: Vocation: What am I doing? How do I offer my gifts to my neighbor and the world?

As juniors engage more in their fields of study, the Center for Vocational Discovery works with students on college-specific integration and offers Faith + Work Fellowships and internship opportunities that will help students better understand how to use their gifts and talents to make a difference in the world around them. Other third-year engagement includes workshops, spiritual formation opportunities and an examination of Cross-Cultural Engagement and Reconciliation. 

Year 4 Focus: Place/Commission: Where might this lead? What is my trajectory? 

During the senior year, students will continue to explore and refine how they will use their gifts and talents to better the world. This happens through continued college-specific integration and initiatives that begin in Year 3. As a student nears graduation, they will be prepared to leave Lipscomb confidently equipped and committed for the sake of the world. 

Along with year-specific programming, students will create a series of reflections through specific assignments that will be collected in an electronic portfolio that they will receive when they graduate.

There will also be opportunities for faculty and staff to be involved with the center through student engagement and personal and professional development activities as well as opportunities to participate in a personal discovery process. 

Students in a classroom

The Center for Vocational Discovery takes students on a four-year journey of life discovery that unifies the entire university experience.

I believe every student, on some level, has a longing to know themselves deeply and to live into a bigger story with an authentic sense of purpose. — Rob Touchstone, Director, Center for Vocational discovery

Committed Leadership Team

"What excites me most about this project is the possibility of pulling all of the amazing Kingdom-focused activities on this campus into a collaborative effort resulting in a coherent, cohesive and compelling vision of God's desire for all to flourish,” said Dr. Earl Lavender, director of missional studies in Lipscomb’s College of Bible & Ministry. “I believe this center will prepare students academically but more importantly to be the best version of themselves for the sake of the world."

Lavender along with Dr. Hope Nordstrom, special counsel to the president for strategy at Lipscomb, will serve as co-leaders for strategy and development of the center. Rob Touchstone is full-time director of the center and is founder of the Lipscomb College of Business Business As Mission program, and Brent Roe-Hall will serve as an assistant director in addition to his duties as an assistant dean of vocation & spiritual formation in the Office of Student Life. 

“I believe every student, on some level, has a longing to know themselves deeply and to live into a bigger story with an authentic sense of purpose. Many students also desire to explore the intersection of their faith and their work and how their careers can matter beyond earning a paycheck,” said Touchstone. “We are excited to begin walking alongside students into the very heart of these kinds of discoveries and so much more.” 

“The CVD is one exciting way we can realize our university's mission—to ‘prepare learners for purposeful lives,’” Roe-Hall added. “But we anticipate the work facilitated through the CVD will help all members of the Herd to be both confidently equipped and actively committed to joining God's work in the world God loves.”

Nursing student

Students will discover their purpose and how to use it to serve others.

Building on a Strong Foundation

The Center for Vocational Discovery reflects the original vision of Lipscomb’s founders David Lipscomb and James A. Harding for a “great educational community that provides students a rigorous academic education along with Bible studies and opportunities for spiritual growth.” 

“For more than 130 years our purpose has been to provide our students a complete education that produces graduates who are prepared with wisdom, knowledge, and purpose to serve their community and the world,” said McQueen. “We believe we are called to be a light in the world, and this is an important way to inspire and equip our students to do that well.”

The Center for Vocational Discovery builds on work that is already part of the fabric of the Lipscomb community such as Lipscomb Missions, the Business As Mission program in the College of Business, College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences mission and service projects, and the Peugeot Center for Engineering Service in Developing Communities in the Raymond B. Jones College of Engineering

The center has received generous funding from the Dillard Family Foundation, established by Max and Gayle Dillard of Dallas, Texas. 

Learn More

Find more information here or email Touchstone at rob.touchstone@lipscomb.edu.