At SPU, students get an excellent education in the classroom, but there are also resources to help students learn through hands-on experiences outside the classroom as well. In a recent survey of SPU alumni, 94% of respondents believed the University’s Mentor Program, operated by the Center for Applied learning, is a valuable service to students.

“My mentorship was a learning experience I would have never received in any classroom. It’s almost like you get to fast forward your life five, 10, even 15 years to see what the potential ‘you’ might look like, and that’s exciting,” said Megan Melberg of her mentorship experience while a student at SPU. Today, Melberg is a compensation analyst at Washington River Protection Solutions in Richland, Washington.

For 25 years, the Center for Applied Learning at SPU has been helping students make connections and develop their professional passions and creativity. CAL oversees the SPU Mentor Program which makes customized placements between students and professionals for in-depth — sometimes lifelong — learning relationships.

The center hosts student workshops on topics such as business etiquette and networking. CAL offers micro-grants to aspiring student entrepreneurs through its Launch Fund, and its Innovation Lab provides group workshops as well as one-on-one coaching and consulting to students interested in startups.

And for 15 years, SPU has hosted the annual Social Venture Plan Competition to encourage students to develop business-based solutions to social problems. SPU student Bonnie Tran competed in the Social Venture Competition three times and attended PRAXIS Academy twice. (PRAXIS helps students view the principles and practices of business startups through the lens of their Christian faith commitments and culture formation.)

Tran’s latest business idea is to create a career-coaching business in her home country of Vietnam. “I love how supportive SPU has been throughout my journey here,” Tran said. “Professors are so caring, and my classmates are so open-minded. It’s helped me understand who I am.”

Tran, an SPU senior this year, is using grant monies from SPU’s Launch Fund to start her coaching business in Ho Chi Minh City in the summer or fall of 2022.

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