Paula Trzepacz, M.D., believes that most people — especially college students — “hunger for meaning” in their careers and personal interactions.Her husband, Robert W. Baker, M.D., agrees. “One of the luckiest things is if you can get fulfillment in life, especially through service to others,” he said.Wishing to improve Butler students’ opportunity for vocational fulfillment, the Indianapolis couple has joined other donors in establishing the endowed Fund for Discernment in the Catholic Tradition. Administered by the campus’s Center for Faith and Vocation (CFV), the fund will support Butler students in paid internships with area Catholic service agencies and organizations.“They can intern with schools, parishes, social service agencies, health care — any agency that’s Catholic faith-based,” Trzepacz said. “We’ll go with the interests of the student.”A core program of the CFV is to help students work at faith-based non-profit organizations through paid internships. This is the first time a designated fund has been established for full-semester, paid internships working with a specific faith tradition.“The internships will be real-life experiences in the community that let students apply their skills sets, whether they are in education, arts, business, science, psychology and so on,” Trzepacz said. “But they’ll be doing it with a supportive Catholic agency that lives out faith values.“College-age students can easily drift from the religious beliefs they were raised with. We want to offer internships that bring young adult Catholics back in contact with the values of their faith. I think it will deepen their roots.”While preference will be given to Catholic students, the Fund for Discernment in Catholic Traditions could also support internships for interested non-Catholic Butler students.“A lot of kids are struggling to cover college costs,” Baker said. “That’s why we wanted the internships to be paid, and the fund to be endowed to supply ongoing support. We hope other Catholics and Butler alums will contribute to the fund.”Trzepacz serves on Butler’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors, drawing on her work as a Senior Medical Fellow in Neurosciences with Eli Lilly & Company. Baker is Lilly’s Global Development Leader for Psychiatry and Pain Disorders. Neither attended Butler. “But we’re attracted to Butler’s approach to being part of the community through cultural and student engagement with Indianapolis,” Baker said. “It’s a balanced approach for students; it helps them stay connected to their charitable impulses.”Supporting the Discernment Fund “feels like a way to sustain that aspect, so Butler college kids aren’t part of a closed system,” he said.Trzepacz was inspired to support the Discernment Fund after hearing the story of Butler senior Kelly Geisleman. Unsure of her dreams to become a teacher in an urban environment, Geisleman undertook an internship that CFV helped her set up in fall 2009 at Providence Cristo Rey High School in Indianapolis. The private Catholic school provides a college-preparatory curriculum exclusively for students from families with modest means and of all faiths.Coming from a middle-class background, Geisleman “didn’t have an idea what [urban students’] day to day life was like” before she interned in Cristo Rey’s guidance office, Trzepacz said. “To hear the students’ personal stories, to get that first-hand learning, was eye-opening for Kelly. It touched her. She never could have read it in a book.”Her positive experience also convinced Geisleman that teaching urban students was her life’s calling.“That’s what makes a vocation different from just a job,” said Judith Cebula, director of the Center for Faith and Vocation. “A vocation matches employment interest to a student’s personal values and the calling of one’s heart.”The center is eager to expand its internship offerings, Cebula said. “A grant from Lilly Endowment allowed us to launch these internships. Now, we are connecting with generous alumni and other friends of Butler who see the value of faith-based exploration of career and service. We would love to support the local Jewish community, for example, with a fund that will help students work in Jewish social service and philanthropic settings. And we are excited to connect with other faith communities as well.”Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson(317) 940-6944mestephe@butler.edu]]

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