Helping Students Develop Their Strengths

by Brianne Martin '13

On October 15–19, the Noel Academy for Strengths-Based Leadership and Education hosted APU’s annual Strengths Week, offering more than 35 Strengths Sessions facilitated by various APU faculty, staff, coaches, and peer mentors to first year students. Drawing from Ephesians 2:10, each session focused on a particular strength and gave students valuable information on how that strength can benefit them in their academics, relationships, and future.

As part of the Beginnings class, each student takes the Clifton StrengthsFinder Survey, which asks a series of questions and based on students’ answers indentifies their top five strengths. Students are linked to strengths such as Achiever, WOO (Winning Others Over), Responsibility, Belief, Positivity, Communication, Connectedness, and Competition. Strengths Week gives them the opportunity to learn more about their individual strengths and how to apply them to their lives.

“Strengths Week is a campaign aimed to encourage first year students at APU to fully discover and develop their God-given talents,” said Keith Hall, Ed.D, director of the Noel Academy for Strengths-Based Leadership and Education, which serves as a resource to APU students, faculty, and staff interested in learning more about their strengths. “It is our hope that first year students are inspired to gain a deeper understanding and heightened awareness of their talents, and how they can be developed into strengths to enable them to thrive academically and socially, throughout their academic journey at APU and beyond.”

Sessions emphasized the importance of self-knowledge, building on individual talents while making an effort to improve areas of weakness, and explaining how learning about strengths helps better understand others. Students learned how their strengths affect how they view time, develop relationships, communicate, and experience the transition into college. They were also able to share their experiences with others who share their strengths, including the faculty or staff member who facilitated the session.

“You can feel the excitement in the classrooms when students discover why they act the way they do and that other peers, and professors, share that talent with them,” said Amy Lanham, part of the Noel Academy. “Students appear to be validated when others notice their strengths, rather than their shortcomings. Who doesn't want that?”

“It was really helpful to meet with fellow students who share my strength and be able to see the similarities in our goals, dreams, and aspirations,” said student Ryan Fackler ’15, who attended the Developer strength session. “Our facilitator was extremely helpful and insightful in sharing more about our personalities and the way we function with this strength. The session helped me identify how I approach situations and showed me how to better thrive in my life with the strengths God has blessed me with.”