Using education to make a positive impact

May 11, 2016
Jayson Johnson


Helping others is a common theme for Distance Education Alumni Scholarship winner and Master of Science in Organizational Change Leadership student Jayson Johnson. The desire to help others along with his solid work ethic has carried him from his first job as a 14-year-old selling and servicing bicycles to more than 30 years in the workforce, culminating with his current position with John Deere. Now, as Johnson nears the completion of his program, he reflects on how his education has impacted his work and his personal life.

“The Organizational Change Leadership program is a really good fit and I’ve been able to implement new tools in my work. Helping people identify, plan, work through, and lead change is where I see the power of the Organizational Change Leadership program.  If we can go in with tools and knowledge to do that efficiently and thoughtfully, we impact people in how they feel, how they adapt, and how they move forward in a positive manner,” said Johnson.

While he found the courses to be engaging, adapting to an online environment came with a learning curve, especially in his first courses; however, he had the support of his advisor and his fellow classmates. “I remember the first month saying ‘When do I meet with the teachers?’ and ‘How do I keep up with all these assignments?’ I was fortunate enough to have Caryn Stanley as my initial advisor, who really helped me get things squared away, but I had to take initiative to ask for help,” said Johnson.  “I am very grateful for the perspectives of others. In the Organizational Change Leadership program, there are multiple generations, backgrounds and work experiences all coming together to write papers, debate, comment, and support each other.” 

Johnson’s commitment to making a positive impact influenced his capstone work, where he volunteered with GiGi’s Playhouse, a Down Syndrome Achievement Center. While he was gaining practical experience working with the board and reviewing their communications processes, Johnson was also able to help support a mission he truly believes in. In turn, when he faced challenges in his capstone work, he found support in his capstone instructor Derek Dachelet. For Johnson, the capstone also provided a unique opportunity for him to apply his skills and learn from new perspectives. “Our big success was bringing to light that small items were creating unnecessary roadblocks for the group,” said Johnson.

As graduation approaches, Johnson is grateful for the experiences in the program and advises others to explore new opportunities and continue learning. “You will never look back and wish you hadn’t learned new things, met new people or opened up your mind to new possibilities. I am a firm believer that people are capable of amazing things, it is the ‘getting going’ that is the hardest. Special thanks to the University for a great experience and helping me achieve something that myself and my family are very proud of. I am looking forward to bringing my son to campus for graduation to show him the results of our hard work!”

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