Being Lifelong Learners and Exemplary Leaders

Gail M. Jensen

Graduate and professional students come to Creighton University to continue learning in specific areas or disciplines. By virtue of their continued study, they are engaged in behaviors consistent with lifelong learning. Given that nearly all academic and professional programs place an emphasis on some form of leadership, is it possible that post-baccalaureate education at Creighton will prepare you any differently than study elsewhere? Yes, it is possible, and the evidence lies in the power of the implicit, or hidden, curriculum where values dictate the depth and breadth of learning. On paper, the explicit curricula, found in written materials, course syllabi, and university bulletins, of many professional and graduate programs look alike. The implicit curriculum, on the other hand, refers to the values, beliefs, and expectations transmitted to students through language, actions, and interactions with faculty and staff members, and with the campus community and culture. It is this characteristic of Creighton’s implicit curriculum that distinguishes it and makes a lasting and invaluable impression upon its graduates.

At Creighton University, lifelong learning requires each student to learn from her or his experiences. While we have benchmarks for academic progress such as grades, degrees, and other credentials, learning is a process, not a product. Learning from experience is accomplished through contemplation and reflection—specifically, critical self-reflection, which depends upon being mindful and monitoring individual progress. Because there are no real boundaries between the cognitive, emotional, technical, and spiritual modes of learning, Creighton students are challenged to integrate all ways of learning and growing. This requires melding the cognitive or technical aspects of your discipline with habits of your heart.

You also will be challenged at Creighton to develop as a professional who has the wisdom and judgment necessary to provide leadership in helping to build a more just society. You come here to learn and become competent in your chosen field. Soon, you realize that developing sound habits of mind, hand, and heart—in other words, values—is also a critical component of attaining professional competence. By accepting your professional role as an agent of change, you will be better prepared to make a positive impact upon society.

One hallmark of a Jesuit education is the quest for “Magis,” which means “more.” Fr. Gillick further defines Magis as honesty, acceptance, and gratitude for the gifts given to each person. We humans have the gifts and we can grow “more” in that awareness, acceptance, and donation. This is a Magis project then, to become more aware, more accepting, and only then, more generous, relational, and revelational. Students and faculty alike strive to develop their gifts and talents as fully as possible. The following brief contributions from professor of accounting, Tom Purcell, and recent graduate students, Jason Beste and Kelly Orbik, illustrate how lifelong learners incorporate Magis in their vocations. Their reflections provide us with insights into the experience of living fully Ad majorem Dei gloriam (A.M.D.G.—for the greater glory of God).

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