Vocations and Shingles

When I think about the experiences I had in Stroud, OK during my Spring Break Service & Justice Trip , what separates this trip from any other service experience I had is the people I shared it with, both in the community of Stroud and with my fellow Creighton students.

To be perfectly honest, I was not looking forward to spending a week of my life in a town with a population lower the Creighton’s undergraduate enrollment. But, as I spent more and more time with the locals, I came to realize that Stroud is not a small town, rather, it’s one big family that everyone is eager to welcome us into and invite us to remain in forever.


Everyone genuinely cares about everyone. Whether it was preparing a meal for those who were working at Habitat for Humanity, working on the site itself, or Pastor Paul driving me from the site to the Church to get a band-aid for my very insignificant cut, everyone in Stroud was looking out for each other.

On the Tuesday we were there, we were all on top of the roof of the house laying shingles. I was on the very edge of roof, cutting and hammering shingles under the watchful eye of Pastor Paul. Out of the blue, Pastor Paul nonchalantly asked me what my vocation was in life. I had been getting a lot of questions like, “Where are you from?”, “What’s your major?”,“What year are you?“, and “Is this your first time in Stroud?”. These were small talk questions, so I was nowhere near prepared for such a deep question from Pastor Paul. I have been struggling with this question for the past few weeks and this was the first time I had a serious conversation with someone about it. I told him that I have had pre-med plans but I was starting to doubt them.

He asked me a simple question, “So, how are you going to figure them out?”

I muttered something about shadowing doctors over the summer, but the real answer was, “I have no idea.” I think he started to realize that this was a sensitive topic for me, and that I was not very enthusiastic about talking about it.

He looked at me and said, “If you want it to happen, it will happen.”

Even though this conversation did not last longer than a few minutes, I will always remember that Pastor Paul, while watching me cut and hammer shingles on top of a house in Stroud, OK, was the one person who made me realize that not only did I need to decide what I was meant to do with my life, but I also needed to have the will to get there.

Over the course of the week, I was pleasantly surprised as to how close I became with all of the members in my service group. From barely even talking on the drive down, to going out to dinner together right when we got back to school, I’m sure we will all admit that we came a long way. Whether it was working together tearing off a roof, playing an intense game of cards or catch phase, snacking on carrots and peanut butter, or talking about our experiences of the day during reflections, I can easily say that my experience in Oklahoma was as great as it was because I shared it with them.

I cherish my friendship with each and every one of them, not only because I had such a wonderful experience with them, but also because each of them had an impact on me in some way. From helping and being patient with me when I was struggling with a task, rocking out to 90’s music in the van, playing a quick game of Uno before dinner, tackling me in football, simply making me smile after a funny comment, or inspiring me to be a coordinator, each person had an impact on me in one way or another and contributed to my wonderful experience in Stroud, OK which I will remember forever. For this, I will always be grateful. #StroudProud

Michelle Baumann
Class of 2015
Major: Psychology
Host Site: Stroud, OK


The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.