Cathy McCall Grand Valley Admissions

Jana Lanning

Major:
Liberal Studies

Class Year:
2008

Hometown:
Kalkaska, Michigan, United States

Current Position and Employer:
Kalkaska County Outreach Coordinator, SEEDS

What campus did you attend? What drew you to the liberal studies major there?
Traverse City Regional Center. I started out as an elementary education student. When I took my first liberal studies class, I was hooked. So, I switched my major over to liberal studies. I am a returning student. One of the things I really wanted to do was return to college. At the time, I thought I wanted to teach, but that liberal studies class totally fit why I wanted to return - to expand my mind.

What did you like most about the program?
Each class was unique in its own way, but what I really liked most was that I could design my program around my interests, strengths, and where I really wanted to go as an individual. The other thing that I really appreciated is the sense of empowerment the program gave me. I appreciated feeling like I could go out into the community and use the skills I learned in the classroom to actually make an impact in the community that I care about.

What was your emphasis area and how did you choose the courses to complete it?
My emphasis was on children and the natural world. I took courses at the community college and at the university center that had an environmental theme, but also some education courses to try to focus on place-based education. For my final thesis I developed a program in Kalkaska for families with preschool children. We took them out to natural settings and read to their children. The books were about nature as well. I live in a community that is struggling in many ways with the economics of our times and we would have up to 100 people coming to the programs. It was incredible.

How did your liberal studies degree and emphasis area prepare you for your current career?
I work with a pretty diverse population. I work with families that are very diverse, with business owners, and with public school staff. Also, I work with other organizations that offer assistance to families. There are a lot of different opinions and mindsets out there. One of the things my liberal studies degree developed, and one of the things I am most proud of with my work, is the ability to build, strengthen, and deepen relationships within my own community. It is vital to my success as an outreach coordinator with SEEDS.

What post-graduation accomplishment are you especially proud of?
I was able to travel across the U.S. presenting at several different conferences; such as, Dallas, New Orleans, Washington D.C., and Orlando. And I am very proud of what I am doing right now in SEEDS. We have several different after-school programs across Northern Michigan. The work that I do with families is just incredible. For example, yesterday we had a harvest celebration where the middle schoolers made homemade chili with local ingredients and cider with local apples. Then they served their families.

Would you recommend a liberal studies major to prospective GVSU students? Why?
Most definitely. This has totally changed my life; it really has. It has totally changed the way I approach my work and the way I interact and work with my co-workers and my community. It has been dramatic for me. I wish they would offer a liberal studies masters because I would definitely pursue it. The program was more than I dreamed of. I never would have dreamed that my college experience would have taken me this far.

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