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.”

Summer 2019 Course Schedule

*EDACE 818: Critical and Social Issues in Adult Learning
Date: 5/6/2019 – 6/21/2019
Instructor: Dr. Susan Yelich Biniecki
KSIS# 11920
Designed for adult learning and students and college or university personnel in sociology and related fields dealing with adults, this course focuses on the economic historical and sociocultural context in which learning takes place. Included is an in-depth examination of the relationship between adult learning and culture.

EDACE 824 Teaching Online in Adult Learning
Date: 5/6/2019 – 6/21/2019
Instructor: Dr. Haijun Kang
KSIS# 11969
This course examines online adult learning theories, online pedagogies, current research, and trends in e-education for the workplace and higher education.

++EDACE 785: Designing Curriculum and Classroom Instruction for Adult Learners
Date: 5/6/2019 – 6/21/2019
Instructor: Dr. Royce Ann Collins
KSIS# 11863
This course focuses on the systematic approach to instructional design for adult learners. A comprehensive discussion of all major components of curriculum design from instructional objectives, course sequencing, instructional strategies, formative assessments and summative evaluations will be included. A major focus will also be on transfer of learning.

+EDACE 836 Group Dynamics in Adult Learning and Leadership
Dates 6/24/2019 – 8/9/2019
Instructor: Dr. Judy Favor
KSIS# 11957
This course focuses on group and team behavior and processes in the adult education environment. Various factors that impact group behavior, processes, and effectiveness will be examined and participants will learn skills needed to more effectively manage and facilitate groups and teams of adults to achieve organizational objectives, accomplish tasks, and fulfill individual members’ needs.

*EDACE 780: Introduction to Adult Education
Date: 6/24/2019 – 8/9/2019
Instructor: Dr. Jeff Zacharakis
KSIS# 11939
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 830: Program Planning
Dates 6/24/2019 – 8/9/2019
Instructor: Dr. Haijun Kang
KSIS# 11967
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.

Doctoral Courses

Summer Residency course
EDACE 986 Conceptual Framework and Academic Writing
Online: 6/10/2019 – 8/02/2019
Face-to-Face: 6/24/2019-6/28/2019 – 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at K-State Olathe facility.
Instructor: Dr. Susan Yelich Biniecki
KSIS# 11256
This doctoral seminar will focus on the analysis and creation of conceptual frameworks, essential for academic writing. Participants will actively construct, present, and critique conceptual frameworks in the literature as well as those they develop. By the end of the course, doctoral students should have a product that informs the conceptual framework for their dissertation and/or a product which can inform an academic presentation or publication.

This will satisfy one of the residency requirements.  Doctoral students must complete two summer residency courses during their program of study.

Doctoral students just beginning the program (Fall 2018 and Spring 2019) should consult with their major professor as the appropriateness of taking this course early in the program of study.

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

Student Profile: Andria Carpenter

profile

My name is Andria Carpenter. I serve Anderson University as the Director for Continuous Learning and I am an instructional designer within the Center for Innovation and Digital Learning. I support my campus through Canvas LMS administration and training, faculty and online course development, and implementation and management of continuous learning opportunities that reach beyond the university to the broader community. My position in this academic group represents a culmination of higher education experience, and I feel deep satisfaction in the work we are doing.

I completed my undergraduate degree as an adult and had contemplated a master’s degree after my three daughters settled in their lives and careers. However, it was my disappointment in not being considered for a position for which I was highly motivated and fully qualified because I did not hold a master’s degree that led me to KSU. I graduated with an MS in Adult, Occupational, and Continuing Education in May 2017.
One of the first program outcomes that I realized was the almost seamless application of course curriculum to my work in faculty training and online course development. I entered the program enthusiastic to study adult-centered education; however, I quickly recognized concepts that transcend the limitations of age and experience, methodology, and course modality that provide solutions and confront barriers to learning. The value of “relevance” is found at every level of the program, in every course description, and on every syllabus. I continue to find relevance between this academic experience and my current educational practice and look back to the literature and course activities of the program as significant resources.
SYBI recently presented, “A Story of Faculty Development, Course Innovation, and Student Success Through Historical Reflection” at the 2018 AAACE Annual Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. I proposed a connection between a wonderful book to which I was introduced while in the master’s program, “We Make the Road by Walking” by Myles Horton and Paulo Freire, the Anderson University Mission Statement, and the outcomes of a professional development experience that took place on our campus. The concept that intersected the three events was that of hospitality, otherwise described as a friendly and generous reception or a welcoming characteristic to those on the outside.
The underlying purpose of professional development in any organization is to disseminate the vision of leadership throughout the organization. Learners come to training with different expectations and it is the job of the facilitator to create pathways of learning for everyone regardless of their prior knowledge or ability to embrace new practice. As educators, one of the most valuable tools we utilize is reflection. The practice of reflection is not a 1-2-3 proposal; it is taking an intentional look at what has occurred and identifying what may be learned from the experience. “We Make the Road by Walking” is a reflective conversation between educators that leads readers through the same learning processes presented in many higher-order trainings find themselves engaged, encouraged, and “invited in” rather than left outside because of a less than innovative readiness.cookie
Successful professional development seeks to provide hospitable training and addresses a lack of participation as barriers, not resistance. My university intentionally embraces a hospitable characteristic by addressing obstacles to admissions, finances, prior learning, and relevant curriculum to create an environment of belonging and academic success. Horton and Freire reflect on their lifetime careers in both formal and non-formal learning contexts that resulted in a hospitable and sustainable sense of belonging through literacy and social participation. While I utilized my personal practice and experience to illustrate the principles of barriers, not resistance, I feel that anyone providing professional development may just as effectively plug in the name of their organization.
I love Adult education. I’m proud of my accomplishments as an adult student and feel honored to support others participating in the same endeavor. When I decided to pursue this degree, I didn’t know if it would change my earning potential; I did believe it would provide new career opportunities. It has accomplished both. Becoming a KSU graduate has altered the trajectory of my professional career and is undoubtedly one of the most important steps I’ve taken toward creating new meaning in my personal life. I had years of experience, a drive to succeed, and a love for the work I do. Completing the KSU online master’s program provided solid connections between scholarly literature, best academic pedagogy and practice, aspirant and peer relationships, and most important to me, an invitation to an engaging collegiate conversation and a permanent seat at the innovative and life-long learning table. Yes, I believe hospitality is the right word.