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CEHD Strengths Spotlight | Michelle Hobbs, Elementary Education Foundations

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At the University of Minnesota and in CEHD we feel every student has what they need to be successful. We believe in taking a strengths based approach and work with students to learn to use their talents so they can be developed into strengths.

What are your top 5 talent themes?
My top 5 talent themes are Positivity, Developer, Belief, Maximizer, and Responsibility

In what ways do you use your talents each day?
My strengths play a part in my everyday life and they are really what shape me as a person.

My Positivity strength is what keeps me motivated and energetic in all of my daily activities. I am able to find the positive in any situation and I focus on what is going well. It is easy for me to get other people excited and I often find myself motivating and encouraging others. In a group, I am always the one who is smiling, laughing, and boosting the spirits of others.

With my Developer strength, I really focus on other people and strive to help them realize their full potential. This theme fits nicely with my major of Elementary Education, because my life goal is to become a teacher and help others be the best they can be. Other people come to me when they need help, and I take great pride in the fact that people count on me and trust me. I get so excited when I see someone reach their goals, and this is what drives me to help them.

My Belief strength is interesting to me. When I first heard of this theme, I assumed it had to do with religion, and this confused me because I don't consider myself particularly religious. However, after learning more I realized this strength definitely fits me. I have a core set of values that define my purpose in life and drive me to do the things I do. I will not compromise my values, and I consider myself to be honest, loyal, and trustworthy. My values provide me with a sense of security and stability, which allows me to be a great leader.

Maximizer is the strength that really pushes me to get things done. I am always looking for how I can help things improve. I don't like to settle for what is average, because I know there is always room for improvement. This helps me in my academics because I push myself to do the best I can. Other people appreciate this as well because they know I will always give 110% to anything I commit to.

I use my Responsibility strength every day because I am extremely dedicated to the things I have made a commitment towards. I know that people are counting on me to get things done, so I always follow through with what I say I will do. I am involved in a great variety of activities, but this does not mean I am only half-committed to some of my activities. I take ownership for all my actions and I take my leadership roles seriously.

How have you worked to develop your talent themes?
I am extremely involved with Housing & Residential Life here at the University of Minnesota, and this is where I have had the most experience with StrengthsQuest. I have been given the opportunity to attend StrengthsQuests workshops and trainings, and these have taught me how to develop my strengths as a leader. I think an important part of developing my strengths comes from realizing how my strengths work together with the strengths of others. I have learned that there are both negative and positive ways to live out my strengths, and I strive to always live them out positively. It is amazing how accurate StrengthsQuest is, so a lot of my strengths development just comes from being aware of my strengths and noticing how they play out for me. I am also fortunate to have many great advisors and coworkers who are trained in StrengthsQuest, and I enjoy engaging in dialogues with them about how Strengths play a part in my life.

What surprises you about your talent themes?
The thing that really surprised me is how accurate my talent themes are. After getting my results, I realized that I live these things out every day, but I just had never thought about them. I am a huge fan of StrengthsQuest because it is so personalized and really gives you an insight into how other people see you and how you thrive as a leader. The only theme that originally surprised me was Belief, but that was only because I didn't know the full meaning of it. I assumed it was religion-based, but this isn't necessarily true. Some people live out their Belief theme in a religious manner, but everyone has different experiences and connections with their talent themes. For me, my belief shows through my core values and commitments I make. After reading about all 34 themes, I was a little surprised that I didn't have Includer or Harmony, because I think these also describe me. But I have learned that people actually tend to live out their top 10 talent themes.

Which of your talent themes fit you best and why?
I have noticed that all of my themes actually fit very nicely together. At this point in my life, I believe my Developer strength really combines with my Maximizer strength to drive me and make me be a strong leader. I use my Developer all the time through my involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters, America Reads, and my current practicum experience in a local 2nd grade classroom. I notice that everyone has potential, and they just made need some help to realize it. This is also where my Maximizer theme comes into play because I want to help everyone improve and learn to never settle for "good enough." If you asked this question to anyone else, I'm sure they would say my Positivity fits me best. People always tell me they wish they could be as happy and as excited as I am, and they don't know how I always stay so positive. This is something I really value and I see myself as a role model in this aspect.

How have your talent themes helped you as a student in CEHD?
My talent themes have helped me both academically and socially as a student in CEHD. My Responsibility in particular has helped me maintain a great GPA while being so involved in other things. I take my schooling seriously and put my academics first. With my Responsibility, I hold myself to a high standard and I don't let myself slack off or get lazy. Developer is a great strength to have as a CEHD student, because I am constantly working with other people and helping them succeed. As a future teacher, I will be using Developer in everything I do, so it is nice to know that this is already something I know how to do. Overall, my talent themes allow me to interact with others in a positive, effective way. They drive me to be the person and student I am today. I am so fortunate to have such extensive experience with StrengthsQuest because it has taught me so much about myself and has helped me develop into a stronger leader.


If you are a CEHD student, staff or faculty interested in being featured in the CEHD Strengths Spotlight e-mail Jeannie Stumne at stumn001@umn.edu.

Visit Strengths at the U to learn more!

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