Students in field

Bridge Feature: Embrace, Expand, Express

January 27, 2022

Seaton Center Rene Johnson


On Thursday, Sept. 23, the Seaton Center for Vocation & Career celebrated its official launch. Faculty, staff, Board of Trustees and community members were welcomed to an event showcasing the newly renovated space in Nikander Hall. At the Center, students can explore their vocational identity, access career services, and take part in a range of new programming. The event also served as an opportunity to express gratitude toward those whose generosity helped turn the envisioned space into a reality.

“This center is a testament to what happens when vision, resources, and generous hearts come together,” said Dr. René Johnson, Director of Vocation. When recognizing the financial gifts from the Ken Seaton family, Johnson said that the Seaton name truly represents the idea of vocation because of the family’s commitment to making a difference for others. “There is no more appropriate name for this center,” said Johnson. The commitment to the university runs deep in the Seaton family. Ken Seaton’s late wife, Lois, graduated from Suomi College and her father, Rev. Edward J. Isaac, served as president of Suomi College from 1952-1954. Ken Seaton served on the Board of Trustees for fifty years until 2013 and remains engaged as an active emeritus. The Seaton legacy of service continues with Seaton’s daughter Shelby Hamar serving on the Board of Trustees since 2014.

The Seaton Center, known on campus as the CVC, is a manifestation of Finlandia’s commitment to accompany the whole student toward a whole life. Together, Johnson and Emma Dorst, Director of Career Services, cultivate the CVC’s approach to career preparation and vocational exploration by encouraging students to claim their personhood and take ownership of their education and career – a framework that is captured in the CVC’s “three E’s” catchphrase: Embrace your Strengths, Expand your Horizons, Express your Worth.

The CVC’s new programming kicked off this fall with the new Finlandia First Year Experience (FYE), a cohesive program to accompany new students in their adjustment to university life. To supplement existing on-campus orientation, the new FYE includes a Pre-Arrival Orientation in which incoming students learn about the various tech platforms employed by the university through a series of self-paced, virtual sessions so that students can hit the ground running when classes begin. The final piece of the FYE was the restructuring of the Sisu Seminar, Finlandia’s first-year seminar course.

Sisu Seminar has been expanded and reworked to ensure that it builds on the orientation sessions and further prepares students to succeed academically and serve the common good. Seminar students participate in a service project to help develop their sense of place, contribute to the community, and cultivate an appreciation for service-based learning. A signature piece of the Sisu Seminar is a CliftonStrengths personal coaching session with Johnson, enabling each new student to recognize and appreciate their individual agency and their unique contribution to the campus and classroom.

Attention to vocational reflection can also be found in the new Voices on Vocation project, an effort to profile individual stories of purposeful listening and living among Finlandia employees. These stories are meant to inspire students to listen deeply to their lives and find their own path toward their callings. The Voices on Vocation profiles are shared in-person twice in the semester at a CVC lunchtime event called “Food for Thought”. Recorded episodes are available on the Finlandia podcast network. This year’s speakers are alumni Dan Grille (’10) and Cameron Goude (’13).

The CVC is also focused on providing students the tools they need to access employment and plan for life after university. At the end of the spring 2021 semester, the CVC finalized a partnership with Handshake, an early-career job search and professional networking platform designed specifically for university students. The partnership enables students to find internships and connect with local, national and international employers. Handshake also offers the opportunity for Finlandia students to overcome the barriers that come with our remote location, connecting them with virtual job fairs and getting them in front of employers across the country.

The CVC staff have developed several course offerings to support students as they explore who they are, who they want to be, and the work that speaks to them. The CVC’s new programming will augment and reinforce the campus-wide commitment to accompany the whole student toward a whole life.

Article originally shared in the Bridge Magazine 2021, Volume 74, Number 1.


The Bridge is Finlandia University’s annual magazine. A full archive of past issues can be found in PDF form at finlandia.edu/thebridge. If you would like to be on the mailing list of this magazine, please e-mail kailee.laplander@finlandia.edu and we’ll be sure to add you to the list for the next edition, due out in November 2022.


Dec. 1, 2021 – Voices on Vocation features alumni Dan Grille and Cameron Goude
Aug. 18, 2021 – Everything you need to know about First Year Experience at Finlandia
Seaton Center for Vocation & Career

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