Finding your “callings”

Elisabeth Martin, Campus Carrier Features Editor

Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier Asst. Features Editor


some guy named daveThe Lecture

Author Dave Isay will deliver the 2018 Conson Wilson Lecture on September 6 in the Cage Center Arena at 7:30 p.m. He will speak about his book and answer any lingering questions about his work.

The First-Year Book Selection Committee announced the first-year common read for 2018 to be “Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work” by Dave Isay. All first-year students received the book at SOAR and joined their fellow classmates in discussion about the book during Viking Venture.


About the Author

In a 2015 TED interview, Dave Isay said that his work as a journalist came from a feeling of being lost.

“I had finished undergrad at NYU, and was enrolled in medical school. I didn’t really want to go, but I didn’t know what else I was supposed to do and everybody else in my family was a doctor,” Isay said. “I took a year off before going.”
In his time off, he began work on a documentary. After his first interview, he was hooked.

“The minute I hit record, I knew that being a journalist and interviewing people was what I was going to do for the rest of my life,” Isay said.

Dave Isay founded Sound Portraits Productions, which is the parent company of StoryCorps. Through Sound Portraits Productions and StoryCorps, Isay has been able to share the stories of ordinary people through recording and sharing unscripted conversations. His radio documentary work throughout his career has earned him five Peabody awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur “Genius” grant and a United States Artists Fellowship, according to Penguin Random House. Additionally, Isay received the $1 Million TED Prize in 2015, which enabled the creation of a StoryCorps app. Through this app, users can use their smartphone to record interviews and upload them to the Library of Congress, according to Katherine Powell, the Director of First-Year Experience at Berry.


Did You Read It?

According to StoryCorps, “Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work” focuses on the lives of everyday people who find passion and fulfillment in their jobs. These stories are meant to celebrate the strength, courage, and determination it takes to do the work that we, as individuals, feel passionate about.

Isay spent 12 years collecting stories for the book and over 65,000 people contributed to his project. However, only about 50 stories are featured. The people who are featured hold all kinds of jobs, including a garbageman, a public defender, a waitress, a teacher and a lawyer.

Through reading their stories, we are able to experience the subjects’ experiences with unique difficulties and triumphs.

For example, the very first story in “Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work” sheds light on a man with a learning disability that hinders his success in an academic setting.
This man had held multiple jobs throughout his life, but none had ever been fulfilling or satisfying. However, as he got older, the man realized that looking at the stars in the night sky was what made him most happy. He took a leap of faith and decided to simply work on a street corner, asking passers-by if they wanted to see the stars through his telescope. Here, he finally found his joy and satisfaction through sharing his passion with others.

Many stories in Isay’s collection illuminate unconventional possibilities for making a living. Through sharing the stories of people and their decisions in the crossroads of life, Isay is able to convey that there is a world of opportunities that many people new to the job market may be unaware of.



The committee that chose this year’s first-year common read includes both faculty and students. They took many factors into consideration when choosing a book.

“We look for books that are likely to be engaging to students, accessible to everybody regardless of majors or interests, and challenging,” Powell said.

As someone who is not sure about what career she wants to pursue, freshman Madison Moore said she found many of the stories comforting.

“Some people think if you are not making a lot of money or not doing a conventional job then you are not going to be happy or successful in life,” Moore said. “But it showed through the stories that the people who worked on the street and only received donations were super content with life.”

However, freshmen were not the only students with ideas about the purpose and message of Isay’s book.

Senior Jack Padgett and junior Kathryn Lanyon both serve as BCC 100 mentors to assist new students with their transition to college. During the summer, both Padgett and Lanyon read “Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work.”

“[The stories] can help ease some stress on some of the freshmen coming in who think they have to have their whole lives put together,” Padgett said. “It would be a good way for them to take a step back and realize that the world really is their oyster.”

Lanyon said that the book helped give a perspective of the different jobs that are needed in order for a society to function. She said that by looking at jobs from the ground up, the students she mentored were able to get a wider viewpoint of the jobs available in the world.

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