Personal Journey Portfolio

Courtney Frost

College Orientation

Great, I know where the food is, but why is college REALLY important?

Upon entering college I was wide-eyed and ready to start what I expected would be the best years of my life. I look back on orientation and my first few days on campus not remembering any of the information they tried to make sure I knew, but recalling how much relief I felt after making my first friend, Amy, and how excited I was to start this college experience despite not knowing what I would or could get out of it (besides a degree).

I know that orientation at my alma mater, University of the Pacific, is mostly information-based, but it would have been great for me to have been talked to about all of the developmental benefits I could take advantage of during my time as a student there. Now, reflecting on Baxter-Magolda's (2009) theory of "good company" and how that would have benefited me during my college orientation, I wish that college orientations would incorporate a session where students can begin to understand that college is about more than cognitive development and getting a job. It's also about growing as a person and developing holistically. Having good company through a mentor, or even just a brief session at orientation to get me thinking in this way, would have been immensely helpful for me starting off at college.

The image above is borrowed from the University of the Pacific. Retrieved from:

Self-Authorship Journey

Cultivating Internal Voice

From about sophomore year of college to now I've been working on cultivating my internal voice. Baxter-Magolda defines this stage in her 2009 book Authoring Your Life: Developing an Internal Voice to Navigate Life's Challenges as "[using] internal voice to sort out beliefs, establish priorities, and put the puzzle of who you are together. Work to reduce reliance on external authorities" (p. 4).

I began cultivating my internal voice through my involvement in founding and as President of Omega Eta Epsilon (OHE), a professional fraternity for language majors. In establishing this organization I needed to start relying on my own thoughts to determine the best decision for the organization. While I still sought out the opinions of others, the ultimate choice was mine and I had to trust myself to make the decision that was in the best interest of the organization. This experience with OHE has greatly helped me with other difficult decisions, such as choosing a graduate school and moving across the country.

The images below show myself with the Alpha Class of OHE after our first initiation and myself with one of my family line members after I installed the new Office Board my Senior year, signifying the end of my time being involved with the organization. I started cultivating my internal voice through OHE, and these images represent the what was an amazing journey and developmental experience.
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Psychosocial Development

Erikson's Stage Seven: Where do I fit in this world? What can I leave behind as my legacy?

Erik Erikson was one of the first psychologists to look at development as a process that spans an individual's lifetime (Evans, Forney, Guido, Patton, & Renn 2010). "Erikson (1959/1980) put the developing person in a social and historical context and addressed the influences of significant others and social institutions across the life span" (Evans et al., 2010, p. 48). Erikson's theory has eight stages, of which I think I am in Generativitiy Versus Stagnation, Stage seven. While this stage is normally experienced midlife, according to Erikson's theory this stage comes after Intimacy Versus Isolation, in which individuals must balance participating in community with an individual sense of self. Since graduating from college I have had to do a lot of reflective thinking about what sorts of relationships will be beneficial for me and have developed a pretty good sense of which relationships will enable me to live a better life, whether those relationships be with people or with organizations. Since I feel that I have progressed through this stage, I would logically be in the next, Generativity Verus Stagnation.

I've spent quite a bit of time reflecting on what sort of work I'd like to do in my career and I've definitely determined that I'd like to leave behind a legacy that has done some good. I'd like to leave the institution(s) I work at better off because I had worked there. I have yet to determine what sorts of tangible changes I'd like to make; I'm still in the process of figuring that out. As Widick, Parker, and Knefelkamp (1978) quote in their article on Erikson's theory, psychosocial development "bridges one's inner life and social roles" (p. 2). I very much feel that this quote reflect what I am currently working through: how I fit into the world around me and how my work as an aspiring student affairs professional fits into that.

Chickering's Vectors

Developing Purpose

The main developmental goals of this vector, Developing Purpose, resonate with what I am currently working on in my own life. This vector deals with establishing career-related goals, making meaning through personal interests and hobbies, and establishing and maintaining strong, positive interpersonal relationships (Baty, Dominy, Mason, Robinson, & Wollenschlaeger, 2011). From about the end of my senior year of college through today I have been working through the process of figuring out what I value, what I want to accomplish in my life, and how my career path, hobbies, and relationships fit into those values and goals. While individuals can be working through developmental issues of multiple vectors at once, this is the vector that I fits what I am focusing on at this point in my life (Evans et al., 2010).

Identit(ies) Development

"You do Kung Fu? And you're in a sorority? What??"

Abes, Jones, & McEwen (2007) cite Webber's (1998) interpretation of multiple identities and how class, race, gender, and sexuality intersect. For my own development thus far, gender has been the most prominent aspect of my identity development. My gender and how that affects my identity began to play more of a role in my development once I joined a sorority. With the influence of constantly being around strong women I began to explore more forms of being a woman and of femininity than I had prior to college. I welcomed this change and feel that I am more myself now that I have explored femininity more, but this caused a lot of internal friction and frustration for me upon my return home from college, particularly when I returned to my Kung Fu school.

Kung Fu is a male-dominated art and being one of a handful of female black belts can be tough. However, prior to my going to college I had not really noticed how differently women were treated at my kung fu school. After college I noticed that I was being treated differently for simply being a woman and that my fellow black belts found it funny when my nail-polish-bearing hands punched, chopped, or blocked. This hyper-masculine setting and my increased identity as a woman caused me to reflect on if this hobby still fit into my life. I have yet to definitively answer this question, but for now it seems that there are two Courtneys: Shifu Courtney (my title at Kung Fu) and regular Courtney. Shifu Courtney plays a less feminine, more powerful version of regular Courtney.

The pictures below depict the differences in my demeanor and personality depending on whether or not I am at a Kung Fu event. In the first image, which depicts all of the black belts after a Kung Fu Camp, no one is smiling because the culture of being a black belt, of being tough and stern, does not mesh with smiling in pictures, which is considered too soft. The second image depicts myself and one of my sorority sisters after a ritual. Clear distinctions between the two include my body language, demeanor, and dress. How I portray myself and how my identity changes between these two very different settings has caused a lot of turmoil for me in determining and committing to an interpretation of gender identity.
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Ecological Approaches

Context Clues for Student Development

"Human development occurs in the midst of a vibrant, complex environment. From a psychological perspective, the environment is largely defined by social and cultural practices and institutions that provide most of the experiences that people have" (Guavain & Cole, 2004, p. 3).

This quote from Guavain and Cole succinctly defines Ecological approaches to student development. Some of the major environmental influences pertaining to my own development are my alma mater, University of the Pacific (Pacific), and the area in which I grew up, the San Francisco Bay Area. These are some of the cultural and social institutions that I grew up with and was surrounded by until I moved to Virginia. Some of the factors that have influenced my personal development and values are the political climate in California, the issues that surround our schools, and the culture of Pacific, that of a small, liberal arts college in the heart of California's Central Valley. Each of these environments, and many more, have contributed to how I look at the world, how I think, and what I believe. This has been brought to my attention more since coming to graduate school so far away from my home and come into contact with people who may have never been to my home state. I've come to appreciate the role that environmental context has played and will continue to play in my development. Having this understanding will allow me to incorporate this important factor into where I choose to live after graduate school so that I may choose what kind of environment I would like to influence my future development.

Cognitive Development

Stonewater (1988) utilizes Perry's (1970) scheme as a means of determining a student's cognitive development in the context of a residence hall. I would place myself during my freshman year of college as a multiplistic thinker. I was still developing the ability to weigh different arguments and supporting evidence to determine whether I believed an argument. Now, I would say I'm moving from Relativism to Commitment in Relativism.

A series of morality classes in college helped me to begin thinking about what I believe and value and why I believe what I do. These classes discusses various topics pertaining to morality and each instructor pushed the students to defend their reasons for their beliefs. During this series of classes, particularly in the final course during my senior year, I had a lot of opportunity to practice relativistic thinking. Now, I can consider multiple positions on a topic and determine for myself what I believe. I do not think that I'm always consistent; my view point may change from day to day, so I don't think I've completely reached Commitment to Relativism.

Moral Development

Moral Development is a concept I struggle with discussing because I've never been able to determine exactly how I make moral decisions or why I choose to make them the way I do. James Rest (1979) suggests "formal education, particularly college and graduate school education, have been powerful correlates of moral judgement development" (p. 39). After reflection I think that Rest's statement holds true for my personal development. Throughout my childhood I had been taught what was "right" and "wrong" and had been socialized to act in certain ways, but during college I had the opportunity to critically think about what I believe. I have not come up with all of the answers yet, but the Pacific Seminar courses I took as an undergraduate on morality gave me a good starting point to continue to reflect on what my moral beliefs are and, more importantly, why I believe them.

Spiritual/Faith Development

Being Atheist in a Catholic High School

Spiritual/Faith Development is another difficult area of development for me to work through, simply because I have never considered myself a spiritual person or one with a faith. From the readings we did in class I was unsure of where I could fit into this body of work on spiritual development, but after some research I came across Atheist Student Identity Development Theory (ASID). Sam Siner's (2011) theory works like several other theories we have studied. Its stages include Awareness, Exploration, Deepening/Commitment, and Internalization/Synthesis.

I put myself squarely into the final stage of ASID. Although I've never done much reflective thought on why I do not believe in God, I am sure in that disbelief. I attended a Catholic high school and was required to attend Mass several times a year. This experience and my seven semesters of theology classes in high school confirmed for me that I am not a religious or spiritual person. Being an atheist in a school of Catholics could be awkward at times, but I learned to deal with it because I was fortunate enough to go to that school.
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The image above is borrowed from Moreau Catholic High School. Retrieved from:

Student's Choice!: Involvement Theory

Alexander Astin's (1984) theory on student involvement discusses how a student's involvement with campus activities increases the likeliness of their satisfaction with their college experience and their success in college. Astin's theory posits that the amount of time and, more importantly, the quality of time that students put towards on campus activities correlates to their satisfaction and their success in college. Astin's theory very much resonates with me because I attribute my success in college to my involvement with on campus organization. My participation with Tri Delta and with Omega Eta Epsilon made me feel more connected to the campus community and gave me a support network in order to succeed in school. My academics improved once I became involved in these organizations and I improved valuable skills, such as time management, through my involvement.

Using Theory in Practice

Good Company for Determining a Career Path

The theory that I try to keep constantly in my mind when working with students is Baxter Magolda's (2002) theory of "good company." I find this theory great because it is simple in its basic principle: helping students to achieve self-authorship. As a Graduate Assistant in the Career Center I work with a lot of students who are trying to determine what they would like to do after graduation. Many students come in expecting the Career Center to give them specific steps to guarantee getting a great internship or first job after graduation, but the office tries to emphasize that each student is ultimately responsible for their own career development and that we are just here to assist them in navigating that process. When working with students individually, I ask them what they would like to do, what sort of job or internship they would like, and then help them determine what to do after our meeting.The most important pieces I need to remember when working with students is that on the tangent bike (Baxter Magolda, 2002) that is their career development process I am only helping to pedal them in whichever direction they choose to steer.

Present Day and Moving Forward

Moving towards Self-Authorship

I'd currently put myself in Cultivating Internal Voice in Baxter Magolda's (2009) theory of self-authorship. I've been cultivating my internal voice for quite a while, but I don't think that I am quite in the Self-Authorship phase yet. I still doubt my internal voice and do not have a clear vision of success to follow. I often rely on gathering advice from several sources before making an important decision. I think that as I get more comfortable and confident in my abilities professionally and personally, in terms of living away from home and holding a paraprofessional position, I will become more able to intrinsically trust my own voice. I think a lot of developing self-authorship for me will be determined by observing others, getting advice before making decisions, and simply gaining more experience in making important decisions about my own development.

Power, Privilege, and Oppression

Realizing my own privilege

As a white, middle class person I have a lot of privileges that I do not realize I benefit from on a day to day basis. This could include subconscious (or conscious) preferential treatment from authority figures, no doubt in my intentions when shopping, and I see mostly people of my own race in advertizements (McIntosh, 1989). Understanding this privilege when working with students, both those who share this privilege and those who do not, will be crucial in helping all students to develop and for my own development moving forward.


  • Abes, E. S., Jose, S. R., & McEwen, M. K. (2007). Reconceptualizing the model of Multiple Dimensions of Identity: The role of meaning-making capacity in the construction of multiple identities. Journal of College Student Development, 48(1), 1-22. doi:10.1353/csd.2007.0000.

  • Baxter Magolda, M. B. (2002). Helping students make their way to adulthood: Good company for the journey. About Campus, 6(6), 2-9. doi: 10.1002/abc.66

  • Baxter Magolda, M. B. (2009). Authoring your life: Developing an internal voice to navigate life's challenges. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing Company.

  • Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F. M., Patton, L. D., & Renn, K. A. (2010). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • McIntosh, p. (1989, July/August). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack. Peace and Freedom Magazine (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Philadelphia), 10-12.

  • Stonewater, B. B. (1988). Informal developmental assessment in the residence halls: A theory to practice model, NASPA Journal, 24(4), 267-273.

  • Widick, C., Parker, C. A., Knefelkamp, L. (1978). Erik Erikson and psychosocial development. In L. Knefelkamp, C. Widick, & C. A. Parker, New directions for student services: Applying new development findings, (pp. 1-17). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.