I consider myself a Strengths-based educator, and by that I mean I whole-heartedly believe that if individuals are given a chance to develop their talents into strengths – great things can be accomplished when working together. Focusing on positives and de-stressing the weaknesses in others challenges everyone to be accountable for their own success. Here is my Philosophy of Student Development.
I have been in the Student Affairs field going on 18 years now and have worked in Residence Life at the North Carolina School of the Arts in addition to working in Student Activities/Campus Activities at Loyola University New Orleans and now currently at Binghamton University. Experienced in planning events and meetings for faculty, staff, and students – I have coordinated smaller events to sellout concerts with national acts.
I am an active member of the Association of College Unions International (ACUI). I find value in this organization because I believe in it’s core mission to promote community building on campus. I have served in many volunteer positions with the Association ranging from Regional Leadership Team positions, regional Conference Chair to Annual Conference Team member. Currently I’m almost through with my term as the Technology Community of Practice Leader and was the co-host of the College Union and Activities Discussion podcast (@CUADpodcast) for many years.
My “Strengths Quest” Report:
Your Individualization theme leads you to be intrigued by the unique qualities of each person. You are impatient with generalizations or “types” because you don’t want to obscure what is special and distinct about each person. Instead, you focus on the differences between individuals. You instinctively observe each person’s style, each person’s motivation, how each thinks, and how each builds relationships. You hear the one-of-a-kind stories in each person’s life. This theme explains why you pick your friends just the right birthday gift, why you know that one person prefers praise in public and another detests it, and why you tailor your teaching style to accommodate one person’s need to be shown and another’s desire to “figure it out as I go.” Because you are such a keen observer of other people’s strengths, you can draw out the best in each person. This Individualization theme also helps you build productive teams. While some search around for the perfect team “structure” or “process,” you know instinctively that the secret to great teams is casting by individual strengths so that everyone can do a lot of what they do well.
You see the potential in others. Very often, in fact, potential is all you see. In your view no individual is fully formed. On the contrary, each individual is a work in progress, alive with possibilities. And you are drawn toward people for this very reason. When you interact with others, your goal is to help them experience success. You look for ways to challenge them. You devise interesting experiences that can stretch them and help them grow. And all the while you are on the lookout for the signs of growth — a new behavior learned or modified, a slight improvement in a skill, a glimpse of excellence or of “flow” where previously there were only halting steps. For you these small increments — invisible to some — are clear signs of potential being realized. These signs of growth in others are your fuel. They bring you strength and satisfaction. Over time many will seek you out for help and encouragement because on some level they know that your helpfulness is both genuine and fulfilling to you.
You are a conductor. When faced with a complex situation involving many factors, you enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until you are sure you have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible. In your mind there is nothing special about what you are doing. You are simply trying to figure out the best way to get things done. But others, lacking this theme, will be in awe of your ability. “How can you keep so many things in your head at once?” they will ask. “How can you stay so flexible, so willing to shelve well-laid plans in favor of some brand-new configuration that has just occurred to you?” But you cannot imagine behaving in any other way. You are a shining example of effective flexibility, whether you are changing travel schedules at the last minute because a better fare has popped up or mulling over just the right combination of people and resources to accomplish a new project. From the mundane to the complex, you are always looking for the perfect configuration. Of course, you are at your best in dynamic situations. Confronted with the unexpected, some complain that plans devised with such care cannot be changed, while others take refuge in the existing rules or procedures. You don’t do either. Instead, you jump into the confusion, devising new options, hunting for new paths of least resistance, and figuring out new partnerships — because, after all, there might just be a better way.
Excellence, not average, is your measure. Taking something from below average to slightly above average takes a great deal of effort and in your opinion is not very rewarding. Transforming something strong into something superb takes just as much effort but is much more thrilling. Strengths, whether yours or someone else’s, fascinate you. Like a diver after pearls, you search them out, watching for the telltale signs of a strength. A glimpse of untutored excellence, rapid learning, a skill mastered without recourse to steps — all these are clues that a strength may be in play. And having found a strength, you feel compelled to nurture it, refine it, and stretch it toward excellence. You polish the pearl until it shines. This natural sorting of strengths means that others see you as discriminating. You choose to spend time with people who appreciate your particular strengths. Likewise, you are attracted to others who seem to have found and cultivated their own strengths. You tend to avoid those who want to fix you and make you well rounded. You don’t want to spend your life bemoaning what you lack. Rather, you want to capitalize on the gifts with which you are blessed. It’s more fun. It’s more productive. And, counterintuitively, it is more demanding.
You live in the moment. You don’t see the future as a fixed destination. Instead, you see it as a place that you create out of the choices that you make right now. And so you discover your future one choice at a time. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have plans. You probably do. But this theme of Adaptability does enable you to respond willingly to the demands of the moment even if they pull you away from your plans. Unlike some, you don’t resent sudden requests or unforeseen detours. You expect them. They are inevitable. Indeed, on some level you actually look forward to them. You are, at heart, a very flexible person who can stay productive when the demands of work are pulling you in many different directions at once.
Summary of some of the cool stuff I have gotten to work with over the years as a professional:
Bands/Musical Acts: The Roots, OAR, They Might Be Giants, Better Than Ezra, Dashboard Confessional, Brave New World, Gym Class Heroes, Lupe Fiasco, Foo Fighters, Third Eye Blind, Drake, Bob Dylan, Taking Back Sunday, Far East Movement, Pretty Lights, Wiz Khalifa, Afrojack, Childish Gambino, Yellowcard, Wild Nothing, J Cole, Trey Songz, Big Sean, MisterWives, Rubblebucket, Wild Nothing
Speakers: Spike Lee (at two different institutions), Danny Glover, Maya Angelou, Patch Adams, Post Secret, Snooki, Andy Samberg, Reverend Run (From Run DMC), Stephen A. Smith, Nikki Giovanni
Comedians: Jon Stewart, Godfrey, Guy Branum, Aziz Ansari, Lewis Black, Demetri Martin, Nick Offerman, John Mulaney
So bear with me as this site may change and grow as time goes on.
I will start with a few categories based on the first few posts, but hope to expand to topics that I know the most about. Event Planning, Risk & Crisis Management, Student Development, Leadership, Organization, any number of things.
Hope you’ll come back often! – Jennifer