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Strengths Quest

Empowering student leaders – and beyond

A new campus initiative is unifying teams, empowering leaders and encouraging students.

StrengthsQuest™, a web-based talent assessment powered by Gallup, has appeared in freshman orientation, classrooms, career advising, employee training and even the president’s cabinet. Currently in its first year on campus, StrengthsQuest™ explores individuals’ five strongest talent themes and real-world relevance.

“It’s all based on positive psychology, so rather than focusing on what’s wrong with students and their weaknesses, we’re focusing on student strengths,” said Mike Finnegan, instructor in the School of Leadership Studies, where initial interest in StrengthsQuest™ began. “It’s brought a shared language, so students can articulate where they have natural talent.”

More than 70 percent of incoming freshmen voluntarily took the assessment, according to Kristen Brunkow, a junior in family studies and human services, Ponca City, Okla. Brunkow serves as president of Strengths Advocates, a student group building awareness of the new partnership through outreach and education.

“A lot of students have said when they see what they’re good at, they do feel like they can make a difference and it gets them excited for what they’re capable of,” she said. “You’re not wasting time trying to be something you’re not and you can capitalize on what you’re naturally good at.”

StrengthsQuest™ is one of the more unique aspects of campus because it is student-driven.

“I am very impressed with the Strengths Advocates student group and their work to motivate students to take this opportunity, apply their knowledge and be more effective in their student leadership and academic roles,” said Emily Lehning, assistant vice president for Student Life and director of New Student Services.

Lehning and Finnegan worked together in planning the campus partnership, which eventually gained support through a private gift. Finnegan hopes support continues for the program to offer more faculty and staff training as well as student-led, strengths-based individual student counseling.

Private support for the StrengthsQuest™ program will expire in the 2014 fiscal year. For more information on how you can help, please contact Marty Kramer, director of development for the School of Leadership Studies, at 785-532-7578.

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