After 20 years of teaching, Jennifer Lauder makes a bold career change

Posted: May 17, 2023 12:00:00 AM CDT

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Jennifer Lauder was an elementary teacher at Alliance Public Schools for nearly two decades when she decided she was ready to make a bold change.  
Enrolling into the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s online Learning, Design and Technology M.S.Ed. program with a concentration in Leadership in Instructional Technology led to a 400-mile move, a graduate assistantship, a master’s degree, and a new position she calls a “dream job.”  
Bold change number 1: UNK’s online Learning, Design and Technology M.S.Ed. program 
“I had taught in the classroom for kindergarten, first, and second grade. And then I was the media teacher for the kindergarten through fifth grade students in Alliance. Then I decided I was just ready to make this career change,” Lauder explained. 
During her last two years of teaching at Alliance, Lauder was taking online courses that she says benefited her as a teacher. 
“I was able to use a lot of the knowledge and skills that I was gaining in that position, as well as mentoring other teachers and teaching them about technology,” Lauder said. “It will make you a stronger educator no matter what your career path looks like.” 
Bold change number 2: UNK Graduate Assistantship 
“I called Dr. Gaskill, and I said, ‘I have this crazy idea that I can complete my degree in a year. What do you think about that?’ She's like, ‘Yeah, let's do it,’” Lauder said.  
Dr. Martonia Gaskill, Associate Professor, Director and Advisor for UNK’s Learning, Design and Technology not only supported Lauder’s “crazy idea” but also provided her the means to make it a successful idea through offering her a Graduate Assistantship with Teacher Education at UNK. 
“I totally did not expect that was going to happen,” Lauder said about accepting Dr. Gaskill’s offer. “I resigned from my position in Alliance, I sold my house, and moved to Kearney. I really liked being on campus because I was able to develop a really good relationship with more professors. I learned a lot about higher education, which was what I wanted to do.” 
Lauder gained experience working on a college campus while being able to complete her program, all within her one-year timeframe.  
“It all just kind of fell into place,” Lauder said. “I couldn’t have ended up in a better place to catapult me into my future.” 

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Bold change number 3: Creighton University Graduate School of Medicine 
“One of the things that I really loved to do when I was in public education was working with my co-teachers and mentoring them and teaching them about how to use technology in their lessons,” Lauder said. “That's what really inspired me to want to be able to make this transition into higher education and really help a different level of faculty and teachers.” 
Lauder recently accepted a position as an Instructional Designer for Creighton’s Graduate School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska, nearly 400 miles away from where she calls home. 
“It is a dream job because I am adding to my knowledge base about adult learning theory and working with a group of people that are forward thinking and trying to do what's best for medical students in meeting their education needs,” Lauder said.  
While she considers her new position a dream job, she is also aware of the multitude of other opportunities that lie ahead within this field. 
“It is also a great starting point for me because I think that there will be amazing opportunities in the very near future both at Creighton and beyond to be able to really be a positive influence in the instructional design world in higher education because it is a career that is just starting to build up,” Lauder explained. 
Bold change number 4: Jennifer Launder, M.S.Ed. 
Lauder will take the stage at UNK’s spring 2023 commencement ceremony May 19 to receive her master’s degree in Learning, Design and Technology. She credits her time in UNK's online master's program as a huge factor that allowed her to land her dream job at Creighton University.  
“I would say that it has benefited me professionally because it's what has allowed me to make this amazing career change and personally it has given me the confidence to be able to make this career change as well. And it's really renewed my passion for education,” Lauder said. 
Another group she gives credit to for her ability to make these bold changes are the many professors and advisors she had throughout the program. 
“Oh, what a positive impact that they have had on my life,” Lauder said. “I'm just forever grateful for them.”

By: Heidi Knake

Category: General, Education, UNK Online, Graduate Studies

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