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Students in UNIV 401: GLD Experience Personal and Professional Growth

 Posted On: Thursday, October 29


 Last semester, the walls of Hannah Dear’s room were covered in color-coded Post-It Notes. She had stayed up late one night and written every single class, major take-away, experience, and article she had written for the Daily Gamecock on each note. The more Hannah looked at each of her seemingly unrelated experiences, the more themes began to emerge. “Eventually, I started seeing the connections jumping out. I realized that all of my experiences at UofSC are interconnected.”

The idea to use Post-It Notes to highlight connections and integrate experiences came from Hannah’s UNIV 401: Graduation with Leadership Distinction class with Dr. Hilary Lichterman. UNIV 401: Graduation with Leadership Distinction is a 1-credit hour course that helps students connect and articulate learning inside and beyond the classroom. Students in the course develop skills like critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration, all while developing a GLD e-Portfolio (one of the requirements for Graduation with Leadership Distinction).

Students can very quickly silo or see their learning in a vacuum, and I think it’s important for the instructor to help students slow down, be intentional, and guide them so that they don’t miss deep meaning. I think some of the richest reflection helps us to grow as people.

- Dr. Hilary Lichterman

Hilary, who has been teaching UNIV 401 for three years, views her role as helping students think deeper and more critically. Whether it’s through open-ended questions, lists, mind maps, or Post-It Notes, Hilary helps her students to articulate and integrate what they’ve learned.

“Students can very quickly silo or see their learning in a vacuum, and I think it’s important for the instructor to help students slow down, be intentional, and guide them so that they don’t miss deep meaning. I think some of the richest reflection helps us to grow as people,” she says. For two of Hilary’s students, Jacob Jordan and Victoria Simone, the act of deep and meaningful reflection paired with integrating their inside and beyond the classroom experiences led to significant professional and personal growth.

Jacob Jordan credits Hilary and his UNIV 401 course with changing his professional goals. When he began UNIV 401 Jacob’s initial plan was to be behind the scenes doing pharmaceutical research in a lab. But as Jacob started making connections between his coursework, his role as a Resident Mentor, and his career aspirations, he realized how much joy he received from compassionately serving people and how important community is to him.

This was the first time I had to take many surface level thoughts and experiences and dig into the impact they had and their implications on my life. This helped shape what my passions were. Having to go over a key insight multiple times, and dig a little deeper each time, helped me find a deeper meaning in each connection.

- Jacob Jordan

“UNIV 401 changed my whole mindset. Originally, I was going to research and be in a lab all day, and now I’m hoping to do rounds with doctors in a hospital, checking in on patients consistently…my biggest take-away is that when I’m a pharmacist, I’ll be serving a community, and I need to care and I need to make that obvious.”

Jacob credits his shift in thinking to the level of reflection he did in UNIV 401. “This was the first time I had to take many surface level thoughts and experiences and dig into the impact they had and their implications on my life. This helped shape what my passions were. Having to go over a key insight multiple times, and dig a little deeper each time, helped me find a deeper meaning in each connection.”

In my normal day to day, I don’t get a chance to look back and say, ‘Wow, I’ve come so far’, and this class really gave the space to do so and to celebrate myself and others. It was a culmination of my college experience.

- Victoria Simone

The biggest impact that UNIV 401 had on Victoria Simone was developing the ability to celebrate her accomplishments and articulate her personal growth. “In my normal day to day, I don’t get a chance to look back and say, ‘Wow, I’ve come so far’, and this class really gave the space to do so and to celebrate myself and others. It was a culmination of my college experience.”

UNIV 401 also helped Victoria develop the ability to articulate her learning and personal growth orally and through writing, and in turn helped her prepare for graduate school in higher education and student affairs. “I always have these great thoughts that I want to talk about when I’m writing or talking to people, but I was never able to fully articulate those. Taking this class has helped me to articulate what I’m thinking, talk about my accomplishments, and verbalize my points.”

Hannah, Victoria, and Jacob represent three of the 296 students who completed UNIV 401: Graduation with Leadership Distinction in fall 2019 and spring 2020. All three students shared that UNIV 401: GLD transformed the way they viewed their experiences at UofSC. Just as importantly, all three spoke of a newfound understanding of the importance of deep reflection. As Jacob says, “Reflection is not a one-time thing. There is no reflection quota. It’s something you have to do daily.”


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