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GSU Students Strive to Become Stronger Through Self-Discovery – Lincoln Parish Journal

Courtesy of GSU Communications

Grambling State University intends to build on its strengths as it moves into the future.

To begin the process of achieving this goal, 12 university representatives—six students and six faculty/staff—attended the first HBCU CliftonStrengths certification class, which began in February 2024.

CliftonStrengths, formerly known as Clifton StrengthsFinder, is an online assessment tool that helps people discover their natural talents.

The assessment draws on decades of research by Donald O. Clifton, who studied human behavior and identified similarities in positive traits. These similarities are distilled into 34 themes, or talent categories, that represent what people do best. The assessment measures the intensity of a person’s talents in each theme and provides a report that ranks their dominant strengths.

Taking part in an assessment can help people understand their innate abilities and the potential to build on their strengths. It can also help leaders identify the strengths of team members and how they can contribute to the group’s goals. Some argue that understanding your strengths can lead to greater performance, confidence, inspiration, and direction.

After completing the CliftonStrengths assessment and receiving a strengths report, GSU ​​representatives completed the first step toward CliftonStrengths coach certification and over the next three months assessed 400 GSU first-year college (FYE) students.

Six Grambling State University faculty and staff members and six Grambling State University students participated in a one-day CliftonStrengths session focused on building a strengths-based culture at Grambling State University where the unique contributions of each individual are recognized and valued.

Representatives from Gallup Inc. and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund led the group through a variety of exercises to deepen their understanding of each talent topic. Participants learned how to identify and leverage their strengths in a variety of contexts through role-playing scenarios, group projects, and individual reflection periods. The afternoon focused on coaching techniques. They learned how to guide students through the CliftonStrengths reports, helping them discover insights and set actionable goals based on their talents.

The second step was completed by attending “HEROES—HBCU’s Embracing and Retaining Our Everyday Strengths!” the inaugural HBCU CliftonStrengths certification class. After successfully completing the 4-day session, a graduation ceremony was held and Jim Clifton, son of CliftonStrengths founder Don Clifton, was the graduation speaker.

Grambling State University Career and Professional Development Center Director Antoinette Livingston was one of GSU’s representatives in the “HEROES—HBCUs Embracing and Retaining Our Everyday Strengths!” program.

“Ensuring every Grambling State University (GSU) student has access to the CliftonStrength programS “Assessment is a key focus of GSU’s Center for Career and Professional Development,” Livingston said. “It’s a significant step toward a forward-thinking approach to career and professional development and a more inspiring student retention strategy.”

GSU President Dr. Martin Lemelle Jr.’s goal is for all GSU students and faculty to participate in the CliftonStrengths program.

“One of our strategic goals at Grambling State University is to emerge as the first strengths-based HBCU in the country,” said Brandon A. Logan, GSU ​​vice president for advancement and innovation. “We are ambitious for our students, faculty and staff to visibly connect with their personal strengths because that will lead to greater outcomes in fulfillment, well-being, resilience and overall performance.”

Livingston said that with the CliftonStrengths assessment results, students can discover their talents, develop them into strengths, and then use them to improve their achievements in school and beyond.

“By leveraging their unique strengths and talents that are deeply embedded in their natural abilities, students can envision their futures and actively engage in leadership, academic, professional and career development opportunities,” Livingston said. “The confidence and direction gained through self-awareness, combined with the support provided by CliftonStrengths certified coaches, significantly improves retention rates at Grambling State University.

“This is especially important because the university educates first-generation and low-income students, who are more likely than their peers to not complete their degrees.”

Arianna Mosley, a sophomore studying kinesiotherapy and a point guard for the GSU women’s basketball team, was one of the students who participated in the “HEROES—HBCUs Embracing and Retaining Our Everyday Strengths!” program.

“Discovering my CliftonStrengths as a student-athlete has been transformational,” Mosley said. “It’s not just about knowing my strengths, it’s about understanding them. It’s about using them to excel both on the field and academically. It’s about defining a path to my future professional success as a pediatric physical therapist.”

Tylen Davis, a sophomore forensics major at GSU who also participated in the “HEROES — HBCUs Embracing and Retaining Our Everyday Strengths!” program, said CliftonStrengths forced him to act and move differently.

“It has made me feel more confident in my leadership abilities and managerial responsibilities,” Davis said. “My CliftonStrengths couldn’t have come at a better time than when I was discouraged. CliftonStrengths has motivated me to fight every day to save souls for Christ. Knowing my strengths helps me in my pastoral journey by helping me become a better leader.

“I am also grateful for the opportunity to become CliftonStrengths certified so I can help others learn, recognize and use their strengths.”

Daphne Tolliver, associate director of GSU’s Career and Professional Development Center, said she found preparing for the Gallup Strengths Certified Coach exam incredibly rewarding.

“The power of self-awareness of your strengths and your team’s strengths can be monumental in creating or breaking momentum,” Tolliver said. “Exposing our students to this tool is a necessary foundation for learning more for greater growth and development.”

Now that every Grambling State participant has completed the HEROES course, they must pass a certification exam and complete six coaching sessions to complete the certification process.