Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy


John B. Cartwright


Vocation, calling, Christian higher education, work, student success


Higher Education | Leadership Studies


The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore perceptions of vocation, calling, and work among junior classification students at Union University. Calling was defined as a transcendent drawing toward a particular path in life, particularly as it relates to work. Vocation was defined in light of its historical and theological roots with a focus on the transcendent drawing toward a way of life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Work was defined as one’s job or career. The theory guiding this study was that of constructivism or social constructivism, which “understands human reality as socially constructed reality” (Berger & Luckman, 1966, p. 189). Social constructivism recognizes that as individuals seek to make meaning out of their life and experiences, that meaning is often shaped by history and social connections or interactions (Creswell & Creswell, 2018, p. 8). This study collected data utilizing interviews and journaling activities relevant to the topic from a sample of junior students in order to describe participants’ experiences and perceptions. In order to invite diverse perspectives, the researcher employed a purposive, maximum variation sampling to include factors such as gender, ethnicity, first generation college student, and major. The data was analyzed by triangulating interview and journal data to identify themes from individual participants in comparison to one another. The findings describe students’ experience of vocation, calling, and work and how the university’s overall programming culture, as well as its career center influence and interact with student perceptions of vocation, calling, and work. The researcher also provides data-driven, pertinent recommendations for campus programming and further research.