I love to hear about people who discover their place in the world. I’m realizing when I read stories about those revelations that often the search takes on a significant role in the discovery.
This realization struck me recently when I read a blog about students at Campbell University’s College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences in North Carolina who are finding ways to use what they’ve learned to help their community. Along the way, they’re learning more about themselves and how their skills fit the community’s needs.
The students are taking a Practicum in Public Health that gives them an opportunity for practical, hands-on applications of what they’ve learned in a real-world public health context. They have found volunteers for local hospitals, taught farm workers about health and helped ministers deal with stress.
One group of students is helping teach farm workers about health issues. The workers’ situation resonated strongly with student who hurt his knee playing a recreational game of football. The student had to call off a doctor’s appointment because he was too busy to drive an hour to the office and an hour back.
The student said the cancellation brought on a “light-bulb” moment. He had to deal with driving to the doctor while he was recovering from his injury for a few months, but the farm workers faced worse situations constantly.
“I knew how important the farm workers project was prior to my experience this week, but I can appreciate the work that they do even more each week as I learn more about the issues that farm-workers and other rural residents face each day,” the student said in a blog post.
Another team of students planned and carried out a project that recruited more than 75 students offering to serve as volunteers in nearby hospitals. The students saw the difference they can make in the community as they realized the potential rewards of their efforts.
“The benefits will reach well beyond a passing grade for this section of practicum,” one student said. “The rewards of successfully establishing this program will improve the personnel status of the Harnett Health System, provide Campbell University students with valuable healthcare professions experience, but most importantly, help us to realize just one way of many that we can truly make a difference in a rural community with regards to public health principle application.”
Another student worked with the university’s Divinity School to plan a health conference for pastors. The goal of the conference was encouraging pastors to think about their own health and to promote healthy lifestyles for their congregations.
The student found out through research that 1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to burnout, conflict or moral failure. The student helped connect pastors to health professionals who could find out about the demands on ministers who are constantly on call for their congregations.
“Every time I can actually watch public health unfolding and working in action, it makes all the time, details, and stress devoted to this practicum worth it,” the student said. “It makes me grateful that I chose this program and excited about how I can utilize this education in the present and the future.”
Life is about the seeking that type of meaningful endeavor. That search doesn’t end in college or when we find a career.
We can discover meaning in all types of situations if we’re willing to look for it.