Hometown: Jupiter, Florida
I just finished the first year of my Master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs at Taylor University and expect to graduate in May 2019. I'm researching my thesis: how the passion and perseverance of international students affects their experiences at higher education institutions in the United States.
I also work in the Institute for English Language Studies (IELS.) I assist international students in adjusting, academically and socially, to life at an American college.
I worked in the retail shop and voluntered at Hospice of Palm Beach County. I was a youth leader for two and a half years at Young Life, a group which helps adolescents around the world grow in their faith and find meaning and purpose. I was also a Thailand global project team leader manager at Sowers International, which organizes short-term missions to dozens of countries. And I taught English in south Asia at the University Institute.
I also went on a few summer trips with PBA that prepared me for living abroad for a year after graduation and for my current job.
It really is all about who you know and networking. Once you are in the professional world, it's so important to meet people. I get very nervous striking up conversations with strangers and setting up phone calls and blind coffee meetings. But since graduating I’ve learned to push through the discomfort because those connections can be very valuable.
" PBA taught me to allow my path to be changed and to push through the fear that comes with it."
A major lesson I learned is how much the people I met could change my path. I became a RA because I had lived with one when I was a freshman at Johnson Hall. My three years in PBA res life made me recognize my passion for student affairs and led to my choice of graduate studies. I also went abroad the first time because of my roommate's influence. And because of the people I met in South Asia, I moved to Thailand. PBA taught me to allow my path to be changed and to push through the fear that comes with it.
Try to find work you are passionate about. It’s not about the money or impressing people, it’s about your work mattering. If you choose a field just because you think you should; your work and personal life will suffer.
Trust yourself and create your own definition of success. Don't follow a generalized societal view. Work hard. Then get up when you fall down. If you do that, you'll be able to do way more than you think.
During the year I lived in Thailand, I was mentored by a local woman who founded the orphanage where I was staying. She taught me to embrace my passions and put them into action. She married her husband with the condition that they open="open" an orphanage. That promise grew into a church-planting organization that reaches four villages and a mid-sized city on their island. She far surpassed her original intention which came out of starting a single orphanage and getting support.
Spotlight posted in July 2018. For current updates from Jana, find her on LinkedIn.