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February 25th, 2014

Finding Superpowers at JMU

Excitement fills the morning air on Saturday, February 8th as students eagerly await JMU’s first ever Superpowers, Strengths, and Leadership Conference.  With Room 405 of Taylor hall at a comfortable capacity of around fifty students, those in attendance display a great enthusiasm for the day ahead.

The Superpowers, Strengths and Leadership Conference was an all-day event facilitated by the Dux Center to help JMU students become more aware of their personal strengths while also providing a valuable opportunity to explore these qualities with fellow students.  Using the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment as a foundation, participants used their personalized results to guide them through the day.

“I see a tremendous increase in self awareness when students take the assessment,” said Associate Director of Leadership for the Dux Center, Michael McCleve.  “The consequences of that are increased self-confidence and increased ability to tap into one’s own strengths and more effectively utilize those abilities.”

Michael began Saturday’s event with an impassioned keynote address which clearly reflected his conviction and personal successes with the StrengthsFinder program. A trained and experienced facilitator of the assessment, McCleve showed an inspiring attitude when discussing the potential benefits StrengthsFinder has to offer JMU students.

Made possible by an extremely driven group of faculty and students, the huge success of this conference owes itself entirely to their hard work and service to JMU. As the driving force behind this project, Loucita Fuhrmann, Lead Team Consultant of the Dux Center, worked tirelessly with her team to make this event possible.  Having worked with both the JMU Outriggers program and StrengthsFinder assessment previously, Loucita felt well-equipped for the task of organizing the event.

“I’m really passionate about the StrengthsFinder material, and I believe it’s very useful for students,” said Fuhrmann.  “After taking the assessment, it made me aware of what my strengths are.  I want to be able to give students the opportunity to have that same ‘aha’ moment.

Loucita and the rest of the Dux Center began planning for the event in late October of 2013 and quickly realized the extent of preparation that would be necessary. Fuhrmann noted, “at first, it was a lot of logistical stuff, such as what I would want the event to look like and to whom we intended to market.  I needed to figure out what I wanted students to walk away with after having attended the conference.

The Dux Center started a collaboration with the office of Technology and Design to establish a clear and successful marketing campaign.  Teaming up with senior graphic designers Megan Chandler and Stevie Marckel, the two groups began planning how they would advertise the event.

“Going into this event, we knew we wanted an underlying theme,” said Loucita, speaking on behalf of the Dux Center.  “Our initial thought was to do ‘superheroes, strengths and leadership.’ It was not until some meetings with Megan and Stevie before we finally arrived at ‘Superpowers, Strengths and Leadership.’”

“We wanted to create a marketing campaign that was gender neutral and capable of wide appeal,” stated Megan.  “Our goal was to address the strengths that make someone ‘super’ and how these ‘powers’ can apply in the real world.”

Megan and Stevie worked to reach a wide audience on campus, designing everything from six-foot banners to t-shirts advertising for the event.  Following closely with their theme, the posters for the event depict a male or female figure wearing a traditional superhero costume.  The ads read simply “What makes you super?”

Attracting a crowd of fifty students, the marketing efforts proved successful.  As the event progressed throughout the day, a few trends began to arise from those in attendance.  Students who had taken the assessment showed surprise at its uncanny ability to accurately gauge their strengths.  “It’s strange to see it in writing,” remarked freshman Pearson Justis, who heard about the event from a friend. “You really don’t realize a lot of these things about yourself until they’re clearly spelled out for you.”

After witnessing the success of the StrengthsFinder event, the term ‘superpowers’ does seem to fit well.  The students learning about their strengths while interacting with others in a positive and productive environment brought much truth to Michael’s words about the amazing benefits of StrengthsFinder.

Want to learn more about The Dux Center and their upcoming events? Visit their website at info.jmu.edu/dux/ or come visit in Taylor Room 105!