Explore your vocation

Would you like to use your summer to explore career options? But need to make money for tuition? Have you learned of a conference in your field that would be amazing, but the cost is not feasible? 

Bluffton University provides ways to financially support current students in vocational and academic exploration beyond normal class expectations.

Available opportunities:

Summer Discovery Grant:  Up to two grants of $1,500 awarded for a 4-6 week unpaid vocational experience.
Ministry Inquiry Program: Work for 11 weeks under the supervision of an experienced pastor. $2,000 for tuition.
Friesen Discovery Grant: $1,000 available to business students for research/professional development.
Pi Delta Research Grant: $500 to support academic endeavors beyond normal class assignments.


Summer Discovery Grant

Take a break from wage work for part of your summer to create an experience that allows you to consider new vocational possibilities. Current first year or sophomore students may to design their own 4-6 week summer experience to explore the relationship between vocation and faith.

Up to two students will be awarded grants in the amount of $1,500. Proposals are typically due in April.


Kayla Nartker will explore the possibility of teaching in a Catholic school. She will be observing two schools (one Catholic and one public) to determine which experience best fits her career and vocation goals. 

Addie Hilden will explore dental school and gain dental observation hours. She plans to observe approximately ten doctors to explore various specialties. 

Previous grant recipients
Leah Bowman

Social work major

Leah Bowman ’24 worked with children living in a domestic violence safe house or transitional housing.

Shelby Stammen

Biology major

Shelby Stammen ’25 shadowed dentists. “To apply to dental school, you need at least 100 hours [of observation].” 

Haley Gill

Nutrition and Dietetics major

Haley Gill ’23 prepared and served breakfast and lunch at the Leipsic Community Center.

Application for Summer 2025 Discovery Grants must be submitted by April 15, 2025.
Decisions will be made by April 30.

  • An interest in designing an experience that will allow you to creatively explore vocation
  • Open to current first years or sophomores
  • Registered for classes at Bluffton University for fall of the year for which you are applying for funds.


Typically these experiences are:

  • Organized for a 4-6 week period of time during the summer
  • Positions that you will not be paid for in addition to the $1,500 grant 
  • Not experiences for which you hope to gain college credit.


To apply, please submit the following items:

Ministry Inquiry Program

Erika Byler

Erika Byler learned she isn’t currently cut out to lead a church. She did, however, find a renewed passion for teaching and theatre, and developed a new appreciation for other forms of ministry.

Erika’s story >

The Ministry Inquiry Program (MIP) is a joint program of the Mennonite Church and the Mennonite colleges to help college age young adults consider pastoral ministry. Students do not have to be Mennonite to participate.

Experience first-hand what ministry is for 11 weeks in the summer. Work under the supervision of an experienced pastor and become involved in many aspects of a minister’s life and work. A $2,000 scholarship is awarded toward your fall tuition. 


The student will receive a scholarship of up to $2,000 to be applied to expenses at a Mennonite college or seminary. Scholarship funds come from the following sources:

  • $500 from Mennonite Church USA
  • $500 from the area conference of either the student or congregation served
  • $500 from the home congregation of the student
  • $500 from the Mennonite college or seminary the student attends

In addition to the above, the congregation to which the student is assigned provides $500 cash for living expenses. Housing will also be provided for the summer.


The program is especially geared to students who will have completed two or three years of college. Seniors who plan to enter a Mennonite seminary may also be considered. Students should have at least a 3.0 GPA.

For more information
If you would like more information about this opportunity, contact Chalsi Campbell at (419) 358-3654. 


Friesen Discovery Grant

Business students gathered for a meal

Bluffton students attending the 2023 Mennonite Economic Development Associates convention in Toronto gathered for a meal at former Bluffton professor Rudi Kauffman’s home.

Undergraduate business studies students are eligible for the Friesen Discovery Grant to fund research, travel, intercultural activities and/or professional development.

In the past, the fund has provided $1,000 total to finance student expenses to the Mennonite Economic Development Associates annual conference, the Mennonite Health Assembly and other professional conferences.

Students interested in applying for funding should contact the business department chair. 

Pi Delta Research Grant

The Bluffton University Pi Delta Society awards financial support to students in an academic endeavor beyond normal class requirements related to their program of study at Bluffton University.

These competitive research grant awards are to be used to reimburse expenses, up to $500,  related to these endeavors (e.g. travel to conferences, research sites and/or other related events; conference and/or event registration; photocopying; research or project supplies; etc.)

In the recent past, Pi Delta grants have supported student participation in the MCC Model UN in New York City and a TESOL conference.

  • Eligibility. Any Bluffton student is eligible to apply for a Pi Delta research grant. Preference shall be given to students with a GPA of 3.0 or better and to first time recipients. A student may receive only one research grant award per project.
  • Application. The student must submit a completed application for funding, approved and signed by a sponsoring faculty member, to the chair of the Special Studies and Honors Committee. The application must include a brief description of the research, project or educational opportunity, a rationale for the funding request and a budget outlining how money will be spent. Requests may be submitted either in advance or for work already completed during that academic year.
  • Application review. The Special Studies and Honors committee will consider applications for grants on a rolling basis but reserves the right to establish application deadlines each semester based on demand and availability of funds.
  • Award amount. The maximum amount of any single applicant’s grant shall be $500. The Special Studies and Honors Committee reserves the right to limit the total award amount to any group of applicants, based on available funds.
  • Form of award. The research grant award shall be in the form of reimbursement for expenses incurred, which must be validated by the faculty sponsor. Reimbursement shall be made through the academic dean’s office.
  • Awardee responsibility. In the Bluffton University spirit of strong academic culture, Pi Delta research grant awardees are expected to share their experiences with other students in some type of public manner. Awardees should submit a written report that contains either the text of a formal presentation on the awardee’s research topic or a reflective essay about the awardee’s learning experience.