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Student Profile: Jana Meyers

Jana Meyers has a talent for identifying potential in every individual and a passion for growing leaders and growing as a leader herself. This desire to continually improve and help others improve helps explain why she enrolled in the Adult Learning and Leadership master’s degree program at Kansas State University in Olathe, even though she already had one master’s degree and significant training and leadership experience. 

At American Century Investments, Jana had been promoted from Manager of Business Support to Director of Training, Development, and Support in just over three years. As a Director, her diverse responsibilities included managing the team who did call center training for 125 employees, providing enterprise-wide training support, and working with consultants and retail sales department personnel. She was well positioned for a long and successful career in the financial planning industry.

However, with a bachelor’s degree in Business and an MBA with a concentration in finance, Jana recognized she lacked “formal” training in adult learning and began to wonder if getting some additional knowledge about how adults learn might help her be even better at her job and gain credibility with colleagues.

“In the beginning, I saw the K-State Olathe program as a way to gain credibility in my field with my peers, as well as an opportunity to become a stronger leader. However, I wasn’t quite certain I wanted to pursue another master’s degree,” Jana recalled. “The first night of class, I knew I had made the right decision to come back to school and was in the right place. I got an enormous amount of value from the KSU program. It took my understanding of corporate learning programs to a whole new level.”  

Jana Meyers has a talent for identifying potential in every individual and a passion for growing leaders and growing as a leader herself. This desire to continually improve and help others improve helps explain why she enrolled in the Adult Learning and Leadership master’s degree program at Kansas State University in Olathe, even though she already had one master’s degree and significant training and leadership experience. 

At American Century Investments, Jana had been promoted from Manager of Business Support to Director of Training, Development, and Support in just over three years. As a Director, her diverse responsibilities included managing the team who did call center training for 125 employees, providing enterprise-wide training support, and working with consultants and retail sales department personnel. She was well positioned for a long and successful career in the financial planning industry.

However, with a bachelor’s degree in Business and an MBA with a concentration in finance, Jana recognized she lacked “formal” training in adult learning and began to wonder if getting some additional knowledge about how adults learn might help her be even better at her job and gain credibility with colleagues.

“In the beginning, I saw the K-State Olathe program as a way to gain credibility in my field with my peers, as well as an opportunity to become a stronger leader. However, I wasn’t quite certain I wanted to pursue another master’s degree,” Jana recalled. “The first night of class, I knew I had made the right decision to come back to school and was in the right place. I got an enormous amount of value from the KSU program. It took my understanding of corporate learning programs to a whole new level.”  

New career opportunities and a promotion

This new understanding led to additional career opportunities in corporate training and leadership. In late 2016, after 16 years at American Century Investments and about halfway through the master’s program, Jana made the tough decision to leave her leadership role in financial services and step back into an individual contributor role in a new company. 

“I had a passion for putting what I was learning in my graduate classes to work in a large organization, so I accepted a position as a Learning and Development Project Manager at H&R Block,” she explained.

As she had hoped, the new position provided numerous opportunities to apply what she was learning in classes. 

“Shortly after taking the Program Planning class at KSU, I was asked to run a national program for promising tax professionals in their first year with the company. I could not have done that project nearly as well without that course and my other classes,” Jana shared. Her contributions were acknowledged with a promotion to Senior Training Developer for Field Leadership Development.

Success developing and running the national project and later helping roll out a new Learning Management System soon catapulted Jana out of an individual contributor role and back into a leadership role. In just over 18 months — and within 6 months of completing her master’s degree— she was promoted to Manager for Field Leadership Development.

In this new role, Jana and her team support H&R Block field leaders across the United States and Puerto Rico. 

“We train all new District General Managers in their first year of the role and support Regional Directors and Office Managers,” she explained. “In all, we touch over 400 leaders per year.”

Skills, knowledge and opportunities that contribute to career success

Jana believes knowledge gained in the Adult Learning and Leadership program contributed to her career success. 

“I have had the good fortune to rise quickly in different roles, and I believe the K-State program has helped me with that. The Leadership Dynamics certificate is a great complement to the program. Knowing more about team, interpersonal and intrapersonal dynamics helps me be a better leader and helps us tailor our leadership training to the needs of our field and corporate leaders. I find I use leadership skills from the program daily,” she continued.

Although Jana’s initial motivation for pursuing a second master’s degree was to gain credibility with her peers, she gained more than just knowledge and credibility from the experience. 

“I felt like I was part of a community at K-State Olathe,” Jana shared. “In fact, it was really the first college experience I’ve had where the instructors not only knew my name, but knew me personally. The instructors and curriculum are top notch and the staff is incredibly supportive.”

Jana also appreciated the opportunity to meet and network with a wide variety of professionals during the program. 

“The unique thing about the Adult Learning and Leadership program is that my classmates were from all walks of life, which was a big advantage. It was great to have perspectives from multiple disciplines like military, healthcare, government agencies, other postsecondary institutions, corporations, nonprofits and others. I feel lucky to have had such a great experience overall.”

Fall 2019 Online Classes

EDACE 780 Introduction to Adult Learning and Leadership
KSIS Class #: 13825 (3 credit hours)
Instructor: Dr. Judy Favor
Tuesdays, August 27–October 15, 2019

This course will meet synchronously via Zoom from 5:30 to 9:30 pm This is a foundation course that acquaints the student with the diverse and evolving field of adult learning and leadership. It provides a systematic base for further studies in adult learning.   The broad purpose of this course is to have students explore the scope and significance of the field and its contributions to present-day learning in society. The student should leave this course with the beginning perspective of how adult learning emerged, how it is presently changing, and how it interrelates with other fields and disciplines.

EDACE 835 Developing Teams and Leaders
KSIS Class # 15444 (3 credit hours)
Instructor: Dr. Bill McCollum
Thursdays, August 22 – October 24, 2019

This course will meet synchronously via Zoom from 5:30 to 9:30 pm (No class sessions Sept. 27 – Oct. 23) Adult education theory and adult learning principles are emerging as effective organizational tools to use when developing teams and leaders. This course will examine how teams and leaders can be developed using adult education theory and adult learning principles. Through this course, students will be able to analyze when it is appropriate to use these tools, their strengths, weaknesses and limitations. To compliment the course readings, students will be asked to share their professional experiences with team and leader development.


EDACE 832 Inter/Intrapersonal Communication
KSIS Class #: 16624 (3 credit hours)
Instructor: Dr. Judy Favor
Tuesdays, October 22– December 10, 2019
This course will meet synchronously via Zoom from 5:30 to 9:30 pm (No class November 26) This course examines various psychological and sociological factors that impact leadership.   Through examining topics like motivation, communication and presentation styles, cognitive processing, learning styles and conflict management, students gain a deeper understanding of how these factors affect their personal leadership style and impact the adults they are leading

++EDACE 765 Integrating Technology into Curriculum
KSIS# 17846
Instructor Dr. Haijun Kang
8/26/2019 – 10/18/2019
This course includes an in-depth study of methods for integrating innovative technologies into the curriculum for adult learners. With an in depth understanding of adult learners, students will analyze learning theories and appropriate technologies for relevance, effectiveness, and alignment with course curriculum.

*EDACE 780 Introduction to Adult Learning and Leadership
KSIS# 17988
Instructor: Dr. Jeffrey Zacharakis
8/26/2019 – 10/18/2019
This is a foundation course that acquaints the student with the diverse and evolving field of adult learning and leadership. It provides a systematic base for further studies in adult learning.   The broad purpose of this course is to have students explore the scope and significance of the field and its contributions to present-day learning in society. The student should leave this course with the beginning perspective of how adult learning emerged, how it is presently changing, and how it interrelates with other fields and disciplines.

EDACE 816 Foundations of Social Justice Education
KSIS# 17852
Instructor: Dr. Susan Yelich Biniecki
8/26/2019 – 10/18/2019
This course focuses on the principles of social justice education that promote equitable, sustainable, and transformative change in various formal and non-formal educational settings across the lifespan. The course integrates theoretical and practical aspects of social justice in local, national and international settings such as K-12 formal education, higher education, adult education, community development, and family education, and agricultural education.

*EDACE 830 Program Planning
KSIS# 17855
Instructor: Dr. Haijun Kang
10/21/2019 – 12/14/2019
This course includes an analysis of major approaches of program planning and development and discussion of assumptions related to successful program planning in several types of organizations. It outlines the importance of program planning and elements of a systematic planning process.

+EDACE 837 Quality Programs and Staff Management
KSIS# 17854
Instructor: Dr. Susan Yelich Biniecki
10/21/2019 – 12/14/2019
Utilizes the use of adult learning theories of program administration to enhance student understanding of staff and team dynamics. Focuses on developing interpersonal skills so that students can be more effective leaders, problem solvers, motivators, coaches, and change managers.

Doctoral Courses

EDACE 940 Adult Development Theory
KSIS# 17853
Instructor: Dr. Jane Fishback
This course will meet synchronously via Zoom from 5:30 to 9:30 pm Thursdays: August 29; September 12 & 26; October 3, 17, 31; November 14 & 21; December 5, 2019

This course introduces students to major concepts and issues in adult development and aging that are relevant to adult learners. Developmental psychology presumes that human beings are changing creatures. Emphasis is on how change occurs over the life span and how education and the educational environment influence this change. Students examine the practical implications of research-based findings in the field of adult development, look at classic and current contributors to adult development, and become aware of major issues and disagreements in adult development, especially as it pertains to adult learning.

EDACE 986 Orientation to Doctoral Studies
KSIS# 14443
Instructor: Dr. Royce Ann Collins
This course will meet synchronously via Zoom from 5:30 to 9:30 pm Mondays: October 21, 28; November 4, 11, 18, 25 & December 2, 19, 2019

This course is designed to be taken early in a doctoral student’s coursework. It provides an overview of the course sequence and dissertation process. The objective is to start students preparing for their dissertation early so they can finish in a timely manner. This course also addresses work-life balance between being a leader, a student, and having a family and personal life outside of work.

* required courses for the Master’s degree
+ elective courses for Leadership Dynamics Graduate Certificate
++ required course for Adult Learning Graduate Certificate

Student Profile: Bernard Harris

KCUR Public Radio interview in Kansas City about my dissertation 20 JUN 18

Bernard Harris, doctoral student in Adult Learning and Leadership, conducted an in-studio interview with KCUR Kansas City Public Radio on June 20, 2018.  He was discussing his dissertation topic about the education and training of African American officer cadets at the infantry and medical Officer Training Camps at Fort Des Moines, Iowa in 1917 prior to overseas deployment to France for World War I.  His interview was the result of an article he wrote for a K-State class being published by the Annals of Iowa Journal, State Historical Society of Iowa and a precursor for a free presentation to the public which was on June 24, 2018 at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City on the same topic.

Segment 2, beginning at 36:50: The role of African-Americans in World War I.

You can check out his interview HERE