Alma College has established an enhanced pre-professional program for students who wish to explore the possibility of religious vocation.
The pre-ministry program — a collaboration between the Chaplain’s Office and the Religious Studies Department — offers an academic and co-curricular track for students interested in ordained or youth ministries, mission or social work, spiritual counseling or who intend to pursue studies in seminaries or divinity schools or other graduate programs.
Alma College has historically offered a pre-ministry professional program for students interested in attending seminary after graduating from Alma. The enhanced pre-ministry program broadens opportunities for students who wish to engage in ministry directly after college regardless of religious affiliation.
“Our purpose is to help students discern their vocational calling,” says Rev. Dr. Andrew Pomerville, Alma College chaplain and director of spiritual life. “The program includes guided coursework but, more importantly, creates meaningful experiences for students to match their call. We also will help students get connected with graduate schools or seminaries.”
Depending on a student’s career goals and religious affiliation, the pre-professional program may encompass courses in religious studies, philosophy, communication/new media studies, political science, sociology, modern language and the arts. An internship and study-abroad experience also are encouraged.
“While a religious studies major or minor can certainly be helpful to students exploring vocation, it is not a requirement,” says Kate Blanchard, professor of religious studies. “There are lots of disciplines that can help prepare students to do good work in the world.”
Students pursuing the Pre-Ministry track have many options after graduation. Recent Alma College graduates who work in ministry-related fields include Katie Gordon ’13, ministry innovation coordinator at Harvard Divinity School; Matt Bauhof ’11, associate minister at Plymouth Church of Shaker Heights, Shaker Heights, Ohio; Joe Kennedy ’17, youth ministry director at The Peoples Church of East Lansing; and Kathalyn Gensler-Nic ’13, site coordinator at After-School All-Stars in Ohio.
Students will work closely with mentors to identify and pursue individualized experiences based on their strengths, talents and interests. Experiential opportunities include on-campus ministry leadership, preaching in local congregations, community organizing, leading community service outreach efforts and working in other ministry-related vocations.