Being a Committed Lifelong Learner

Posted on Monday, Apr 10, 2017

If you ever see the movies where the main character has the same facial expression but just moves from scene to scene, day after day from the monotony of their lives - that is my version of torture and one of my greatest fears. I believe there is an incredibly fine line between being content and being complacent. However, it is the mindset of still wanting to grow while being happy with where you are in life that makes contentment healthy.

There are five parts of the Aggies Commit Student Learning Goals: curiosity, initiative, independence, transfer, and reflection. Each are characteristics that can comprise a committed, lifelong learner - something I wish to encapsulate.

Curiosity: Curiosity is the foundation of learning because it is a desire to push yourself and be wise enough to admit you do not know it all (you will never know it all), and that the world always has another facet to learn about. I am fortunate my degree (International Studies) is incredibly interdisciplinary and requires each of its students to focus in many areas comprising of sociological, cultural, and political thought. In a year, I will hope to become fluent in Spanish by living in Santiago, Chile for five months as part of my required study abroad. However, realistically speaking, I won’t be able to always live in other countries and be immersed in new environments all the time, but I can choose to be open to other’s experiences and broaden my world in the most incremental yet impactful ways. Learning comes in many forms, but curiosity is the building blocks - this world is literally too beautiful to limit yourself from it.

Initiative: After my undergrad, I want to continue my formal education with a master’s degree in business. Part of it is driven out of necessity. With more bodies in the workforce, there has to be something that sets you apart which will indicate you are the most qualified for the job. Also, I am too competitive to ever watch other people succeed without getting some piece of it. The other side is that if I have an opportunity to be educated in something as prominent in our world as business, why not? For me, initiative is rooted in a goal oriented life style and sticking to those plans. One of the most profound things I heard from a friend was to “be stubborn about your vision, and flexible about your methods.” It will take time, I just have to be patient.

Independence: Personally, I believe I am well versed in the art of being independent whether it be in thought, action, or in the ability to function on my own, sometimes too much. It is the interdependence that I am hoping to work on. I want to be at a point in life where my thoughts are truly my own and something I believe in without question, but still be considerate of the others around me. When I consider others, I believe there is a fairer and balanced outcome and a better life to be lived.

Transfer: I am incredibly overwhelmed with how much someone needs to know in order to function and contribute in the world. Even within state government, I constantly feel like I am not learning fast enough. I feel inadequate, but every once in a while, I have those light bulb moments that keep me going. For the future, I believe the best thing for me to do in order to transfer and connect information from college to the “real world” is to invest into my work ethic and continually strive for incremental and realistic improvements instead of beating myself up for not being the best and the brightest all the time.

Reflection: For some reason, when my friend was upset that she might have missed out on her chance for an internship, I told her that “maybe her steps seem small compared to her peers that have already acquired internship positions, but they are different steps on a different journey. Each has their own time.”  I have no clue where and when I decided to become a wise old sage, but I believe that this internship has taught me to be reflective solely on my journey. Other people’s success should inspire you to achieve more, but it should never make you feel inadequate.

Regardless of where I end in life, I can only hope I choose to make the most of it.

Jena Seidemann
Office of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick
Austin, Texas | Spring 2017