Competency E: Commitment to Ongoing Inquiry

The StrengthsQuest assessment that I took during my training as a Graduate Assistant for Career Services provided a list of my top five strengths. Emerging from positive psychology, the assessment only reports the strengths of each individual so that those strengths are emphasized and capitalized on, as opposed to the tendency many people have to focus on improving weaknesses. The assessment defines strengths as talents that have been invested in using time and psychological focus. My top five are, in order: Strategic, Learner, Relator, Intellection, and Input. Several of these strengths deal with an internal commitment I have to engaging in ongoing inquiry.

My learner strength means that I love learning, that I thrive on learning for the sake of learning, not simply because of what the learning will help me to know or do. Input means that I collect and gather, knowledge, information, objects, in order to have a full picture and understanding of any situation. My strength in intellection suggests that I enjoy thinking and intellectual activity. I enjoy the process of thinking things through and theoretical ideas. Each of these strengths shows a natural and internal commitment to continuing to learn, engage, and inquire about the work I will do each day.

However, I also believe that I have an external motivation to continue to learn and grow and engage with research and professional development, and this motivation is the students I work with. I owe it to them to be informed about the latest best practices, the newest technology, the trends and research and theories that may impact their college experiences.

In my doubt, there is a notion of forward movement, of restlessness, and this also relates to valuing ongoing inquiry and engagement. Fanny Howe (2003), a poet, showed me a way to think about how doubt can work to push me forward:

“When all the structures granted by common agreement fall away and that ‘reliable chain of cause and effect’ that Hannah Arendt talks about—breaks—then a person’s inner logic also collapses. She moves and sees at the same time, which is terrifying.

Yet strangely it is in this moment that doubt shows itself to be the physical double to belief; it is the quality that nourishes willpower, and the one that is the invisible engine behind every step taken.” (p. 25)

I commit to participate in ongoing inquiry and engagement, to employ that invisible engine. I have no choice.

4 Responses to “Competency E: Commitment to Ongoing Inquiry”

  1. Melissa Yamamoto says:

    Yay for using your strengths! What are some specific areas that you feel you need to explore and learn more about after graduation? What are some thoughts for how you will continue to develop yourself professionally and personally?

    • Thanks, Melissa! I have written extensively about professional development needs in my post, Professional Development Needs and Interests. However, some specific areas of interest include learning more about various counseling techniques, like motivational interviewing and narrative counseling. I want to learn more about positive psychology and wellness, as well as how I can employ public health theories to the campus culture. I also will continue to learn more about the cultures of the various students and student populations on my campus, attending events, retreats, and activities that will facilitate that learning.

  2. Melissa Yamamoto says:

    I’d be interested in hearing more about your thoughts on employing public health theories to the campus culture.

    • Since I share an office with graduate assistants for Healthy Campus Initiatives who are often Public Health Master’s students, I’ve been exposed to the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which they are trying to influence the campus culture. Also, in one of the CAPS Advisory Board meetings, I heard a radical idea (to me) coming from Public Health suggesting that first-year, first-term students not receive grades in classes (just pass fail) so that the anxiety associated with the transition process is relieved and to minimize mental health issues and stress for first year students. Looking at the community culture as nonsmoking at OSU really changed the perception of this campus and being sure to offer health food options to students at the same cost and convenience as traditional fast food impacts student wellness and the way we (OSU) see ourselves. I think these community-focused big-picture ideas could be great for Student Affairs at the policy level to shift culture toward health and wellness in all aspects.

Leave a Reply