Career Services

Vocational Discernment Grants

Willamette University's Definition of Vocation

At Willamette, we say that vocational discernment is the way we live out our passions in the world: the way in which our values, our commitments and our beliefs are embodied in our choices about work, about family, and about our political and social lives.
This is vocation in the context of a liberal arts education- a definition that opens up choice and options. It teaches students how to think critically, inquire freely, lead wisely, serve generously, and live with integrity.

Download the Informational Packet!

Here is a pdf with easy to read directions, a checklist, and sample sections to model your proposal after!

Student Vocational Discernment Grants

Sponsored by Willamette University’s Career Center, funded by the Lilly Project.

Students are eligible for one Lilly-funded Vocational Discernment Grant of up to $200 during their four years at Willamette.

A Vocational Discernment Grant funds educational opportunity for vocational exploration that allows you to explore vocational questions you might have about that subject. Examples may include attending a conference, workshop, meeting, or training session. The experience should contribute to your personal development and relate to service (how can you bring back and use what you are gaining/learning for the betterment of our campus/local/larger community).

To Apply:

Submit (via e-mail) a letter of application to Jeani Bragg and Xengie Doan addressing the following criteria for funding, reflecting on why this is an important educational opportunity for the applicant, and explaining how this vocation is related to service (serves people in some way).  An application must contain the following:

1. Description of the opportunity, including in what way it furthers personal vocational exploration and what the student hopes to gain from the experience:

  • First, describe the experience.
  • Second, the conference or educational opportunity must provide resources for discernment and support of a vocation.
    • [What vocational questions are you hoping to answer for yourself? Is there something you can learn at this event that will help you further discern, challenge, consider the possibilities of engaging in this life path?]
  • Third, developmentally what does the student hope to gain from this experience?
    • Please be specific for all three.

2. Interest and Importance: The student applicant must show evidence of interest in this vocational direction (i.e., previous or current service, membership in clubs, course work, advocacy, etc.) Explain what led to this point and why it is personally important.

3. Giving Back: The student applicant must provide a plan/proposal of how the knowledge gained at the conference/workshop/training event will be shared with the WU/Salem community or others.

4. Budget: The student applicant must prepare an estimated budget and provide documentation about the educational opportunity and the costs of attendance (brochure, registration info, travel estimates [sample airfares, mileage]).

5. Other Funding Sources: The student applicant should indicate what other sources, if any, have been approached about funding, and the disposition of those requests.


1) Application must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the educational opportunity.

2) Retro-active funding will not be considered.

3) Vocational Discernment Grants do not fund job fairs, networking, recruiting opportunities, or job-hunting.

Help with your application: We consider the grant application process a learning opportunity for students and offers them support as they work through the process of applying for funding. To make an appointment to discuss your ideas, ask questions, or review drafts please call x6296.


The applicant will be contacted regarding the status of his/her proposal within 1 week. If the proposal is accepted s/he will receive additional information regarding funding procedures.


The student must submit the following no later than 2 weeks after the experience:

1. A one-page reflection explaining and evaluating the experience – In what way did you engage in vocational exploration and what did you learn?

2. Profile information to be used for the Career Services website, bulletin boards, etc.  Information must include: Name, photo, class year, major and a short description of the educational experience and what you gained from it.

Questions? Contact Jeani Bragg at or Xengie Doan at, call x6296, or visit the Career Center (UC3).

Funding for grants provided by: