University of Montana Western logo.
Apply Visit More Info

A calling found

February 22, 2017

Gretchen Vetsch signed up for an internship, but ended up getting so much more in return. While helping her community she found a career path she had previously never imagined.

Senior Gretchen Vetsch

Senior Gretchen Vetsch has had a tumultuous but successful academic career at the University of Montana Western. Recently she sat down to reflect on her college years and discuss her involvement with the Women’s Resource Center in Dillon, Mont.

The center, locally operated by Brian Wheeler, provides support and services for those who have been victims of violent or sexual crimes. “Montana Western has played a crucial role in supporting the organization,” Wheeler said. “They provide excellent volunteers and a means to get the message out.”

The organization, which is the sole service provider for Beaverhead and Madison counties, is a small non-profit that provides free support and services for those in need.

Vetsch began her academic career as an education major with a deep love and respect for the field, but during her senior year made the terrifying realization that education may not be the right path for her.

“Understand that you don’t have to have it all figured out,” said Vetsch. “You are not stuck to a single career path for the rest of your life.” So with only one education class and student teaching remaining, she decided to take her life in a new direction.

Jokingly referring to this as her “quarter-life crisis,” Vetsch took stock of her academic options and formulated a plan that would not only allow her to pursue an interest in grant writing but graduate on time.

As a part of the Women in Literature class and with assistance from her advisor, Vetsch became involved with fundraising for the center. She began an internship gaining experience in the grant writing process and discovering a variety of diverse career options available in the humanities.

Working full time, she serves as an extra pair of eyes and ears during the organization’s assemblies. During her first day, Gretchen saw the intense amount of work necessary to assist the community.

Gretchen at University of Montana Western
Brian Wheeler and Gretchen Vetsch at work creating grants to benefit the community.

Vetsch has spent the majority of her time at the center collaborating with creating grant requests for possible future grants.

She put her English background to good use, proofreading and editing proposal drafts. She later aided in the arduous process of passing the largest of the organization’s grants, VOCA, or the Victims of Crime Act. The grant aids those who were victims of violent or sexual crimes.

When asked about her Montana Western’s experiential learning environment, Vetsch said she liked the intimate setting. “It allows me to make connections that would have otherwise been much more intimidating and difficult to obtain,” she said.

Gretchen’s plans for the future remain open. “I’m just looking to find something I’m passionate about,” she said and is now exploring nonprofit opportunities in Montana. Vetsch said she hopes to lend a hand in any way she can.