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Helping Students to Develop Their Calling

Richard Ponton Lunch and Learn

“Work is part of God’s living plan. Work changes things outside, and it changes things inside.”

—Pope Francis

Throughout their time at Georgian Court, students are provided with educational, spiritual, and experiential experiences, and it is the responsibility of the Georgian Court community, as educators, to help students “connect the dots” of these experiences to develop their calling.

This was the theme of the “Helping Students to Develop Their Calling” presentation by Richard Ponton, Ph.D., GCU assistant professor of psychology, on October 19 as part of Inaugural Week’s Lunch and Learn series.

Faculty, staff, and administrators joined Dr. Ponton as he discussed vocation and calling in the context of the Catholic Church and psychologists. The presentation centered on the question: “How do we reframe our conversation to who you want to be, rather than what you want to be?”

Dr. Ponton noted that the strongest influences upon deciding one’s calling are experiences and individuals who touch the students’ lives. Reflection is particularly important in helping students connect these experiences to vocation and calling, he said.

He cited Pope Francis, who said “work is part of God’s living plan. Work changes things outside, and it changes things inside.”

Dr. Ponton listed the many benefits of promoting the conversation of calling, including enhanced student engagement, improved retention, improved academic performance, deeper learning, understanding of one’s life trajectories, improved faculty engagement, and improved community involvement.

“It is our responsibility to teach compassion and mercy,” he added.

Story contributed by Michelle Giles, GCU communications and grants specialist.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Georgian Court University is a leading regional university that provides a transformative education, preparing students for ethical leadership and service in the Catholic Mercy tradition. Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. The university has a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women.

As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 1,900 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 16 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings, and in 2024, GCU was named one of the best Online Master’s Colleges in New Jersey.

The main campus is in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students through its Center for Professional Studies, and at other locations, including GCU at Brookdale, and through multiple online degree and certificate programs.