Faith and Work Reinforces Passion for Professions


by Victoria Sherwood

In the 10 years that the Lily Foundation’s grant has funded Millsaps College’s Faith and Work program, the initiative has grown exponentially. The Faith and Work program has since been an umbrella for many other programs at Millsaps, such as One Campus One Community and Community Engaged Learning. These programs have moved out from under Faith and Work, and are now big enough to hold their own.

“Faith and Work is no longer and unbounded pool of money that can support all those things, but it is still a functional program, and those things that it created can support themselves,” says Ann Phelps, director of Faith and Work.

The core of Faith and Work is an academic-based program. “Students can reflect on their vocations and their senses of callings and try to identify that place where their deepest gladness meets the worlds deepest hunger,” Phelps says.

Students who take Faith and Work begin with the introductory class, “The Meaning of Work.” From there, they have internships with professionals who are invested in the community. They also take reflection courses, where students will “find out what makes them tick,” and what they want out of their profession.

“The needs of the world, quite literally the things you can be paid to do, have changed—but also what are the growing needs that we already don’t have people meeting?” Phelps says. Phelps reinforces the importance of finding a profession that a student finds passion in.

“We have found that, especially at Millsaps, the last thing Millsaps students need is more opportunities to lead. What they need is an opportunity to not lead, but an opportunity to follow,” Phelps says. The faith and work pilgrimage, another requirement for Faith and Work minor or major, offers that experience. It gives students the chance to sit quietly and reflect.

“Students, right now, are so over-programmed what they need is the experience of not being the leader, but being a part of a pilgrimage where they don’t know what to expect. It’s not on them to create it,” Phelps says. Phelps calls it a leadership plague. Faith and Work helps students learn how to follow and learn how to work with other people in order to create.