The Story of One Chattanooga Fellow: Nathan Carrillo '21
From a description on their website, the Chattanooga Fellows Program is "a nine-month experience that equips recent college graduates to faithfully find their vocation, commit to community, explore their faith, and practice civic responsibility."
Nathan Carrillo graduated from Covenant College in 2021 as a business major and has been working with the Chattanooga Fellows Program since. Hear Nathan describe his time with the program in his own words.
How did you become interested in the fellows program? What was your path to the program?
I first found out about the program when I was in my last semester at Covenant College. I was mostly interested in how the program approaches the question of “what does it mean to be a Christian and work faithfully day by day?” After talking with some of the previous Chattanooga Fellows, and realizing that I wanted to pursue this option, I went ahead and applied!
What was it like transitioning from Covenant to the fellows program?
I would have to say that the transition was hard at first, taking that first step out of college can be daunting. Covenant prepared me well in my education for my internship this year so the transition there was not as challenging. The hardest part to me was understanding the commitment involved to the community when it's not made for you (ie: Hall life, roommates). But by the same token, it has made creating spaces to meet new people and groups so much more rewarding!
Can you explain what you do through the program and the structure?
The Chattanooga Fellows aim to equip college graduates in four spheres: vocation, civics, community and faith. Currently I work my internship with two companies, Bridge Public Affairs, and Generation Property Management, both within my field of study and interest.
Also, every week we go out into the community and learn more about the non-profits that serve the city. In conjunction, I also volunteer with Neigh’tions, a non-profit that aims to care for the increasing amount of refugees that come to the Chattanooga area. For the community piece, by committing to North Shore Fellowship for the program, I understand what it means to be part of a body of believers. Each week, I take classes to dive deeper into scripture, learning what it means to work faithfully in my vocation.
What has been most influential for you in the program? What’s one thing you’ve learned?
For some time it didn’t feel like I had progressed past college because I was still in the same city. But that quickly changed when I realized how little about Chattanooga I really knew. The needs of the city are large and I had only seen part of it being at Covenant. Apart from that, I would say that I’ve learned the true importance of being committed to a church. Growing up, I bounced around a few different churches and especially during my college years I distanced myself from being planted within a community. I’ve seen how God uses a community of believers for flourishing!
How is the program preparing you for future jobs, communities, service, leadership positions, etc?
The program has done amazing work preparing my mindset for future jobs, wherever that may lead me, understanding that God is at work even in what seems like the mundane day to day items. The fellows program has also instilled a love for community that reaches beyond just the person next to me! I’ve even learned what it means to be a servant leader firsthand from great Chattanooga leaders. The Chattanooga Fellows Program has been invaluable to how I am approaching the rest of my life with so many other things I’ve learned!
What is one of your favorite parts about the program?
If I had to choose only one, my favorite part of the program would have to be our community dinners every week. Besides the very obvious fact that we eat extremely well on these nights, it has been a blessing and encouragement to hear from other Chattanoogans who made their way to Tennessee. It is a special night to hear how God is working in their lives in unique ways and also models a true commitment to their communities by inviting us into their homes.
What would you say to someone considering a fellows program?
I would say that the program addresses, very well, the issue of “What’s next?” or “How does my work matter?” The Chattanooga Fellows Program has been instrumental in forming my approach to vocation, community, civics, and service as a disciple of God and what that means for me going forward. If that sounds like you then I would highly encourage considering a fellows program!