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Former teacher Kayla Jamison adds advanced degree to enhance corporate training knowledge

Kayla Jamison knew from an early age that her true calling was making a difference in the world through education. She just wasn’t targeting the right age group.

“I was dead-set, even in high school, on being a first-grade teacher,” she said. “Once I got into a classroom in Ontario, Oregon, I realized very quickly that it wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I felt like I wasn’t making a difference.”

After a Google search to see what other jobs she could do with a teaching certificate, Jamison landed on corporate training. She hasn’t looked back since strolling onto that new career path.

“I love learning, so I knew that as much as the experience matters, it’s nice to know you’re doing things correctly, making the right moves and doing what you’re supposed to be doing in this field,” she said. “That piece of paper matters. I knew it was time to go back to school and figure it out.”

Kayla Jamison poses for a photo outside a building

Photo provided by Kayla Jamison

Jamison is on track to graduate from Boise State University’s online Master of Science in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) in May 2024. She is a first-generation college graduate.

“I could see the blue turf inside Boise State’s football stadium from my office at the time, across the street,” she said. “I built up my network pretty quickly through local organizations. I met some of the Boise State faculty at events. Proximity made it make a lot of sense.”

Jamison, a senior learning consultant who resides in Boise, has taken one course per semester since enrolling in January 2019.

She and her husband, Justin, have a son, Austin (9). Her company also offers tuition reimbursement, making the decision to go back to school a no-brainer.

“My husband is the best; he has been very supportive,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to do it without his support. I have been in the program half as long as my child has been alive. It’s been a slow and steady pace.”

Finding a Different Niche

Jamison grew up in New Plymouth, Idaho, where her mother worked as a secretary for a school. That’s also where a first-grade teacher inspired her to follow in her footsteps, leading Jamison to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and teaching from the College of Idaho in 2014.

“I loved how she managed a classroom,” she said. “I knew she was making such a difference in the kids’ lives. I thought that’s where I wanted to be. I wanted to be her when I grew up.

“She’s still a great teacher to this day. It worked out really well. I am happy with where I have been able to take this career in corporate training.”

After launching her new career as a learning and development specialist at in 2015, Jamison continued to add experience at ATD Treasure Valley, St. Luke’s Health System and now AMN.

“I was lucky to land that first training position,” she said. “My boss, Nate Rowlan, hired me because he needed somebody to do the new hire onboarding program.

“He had it put together, but he needed somebody to facilitate. He gave me the tools and resources I needed to be successful. He let it happen naturally. If he did not take a chance on hiring me and giving me the tools, I would have never even known this industry existed.”

During her time as a graduate student at Boise State, Jamison has seen a steady increase in her knowledge with real-world experience through organizational class projects while she works full-time.

“I am further along than some of my leaders and people who have been in the industry for a while,” she said. “I am able to share a lot of the information I have learned from this program.

“My professors are phenomenal. When small things have come up, they know I am a professional. That has kept me going. I know I just have to raise my hand and say, ‘I need an extra day,’ or ‘I don’t understand this.’ They will hop on a call with me super quick and work it out.”

Needs Assessment, taught by the now-retired Steve Villachica, was Jamison’s favorite course in the curriculum.

“I didn’t know much about needs assessment, so I was a little bit nervous about being in the class,” she said. “I knew Villachica from talking to him at networking events. He is so intelligent. He was amazing. It ignited me.

“It was tough, but I saw that I could do it. If I could figure out needs assessment, I could unlock potential in other areas. I bring needs assessment to my work constantly. I know if I can find the root cause, I can find the need and will be further ahead in making a difference for my organization.”

Paying it Forward

Jamison will walk the graduation stage at Albertsons Stadium on the same blue turf she could see from her former office. Then, she plans to continue doing what she loves best … educating.

“I’d like to be able to do what my first leader did,” she said. “I want to take someone who has no idea what they’re doing and is in that same spot I was in in their career.

“I would love to give that to someone else and give them those tools, whether it’s leadership or mentoring, like that leader did for me.”

With a master’s degree under her belt and plenty of networking opportunities through Boise State, Jamison expects to see her career opportunities increase.

“I absolutely believe having a master’s degree will open doors for me,” she said. “Even being able to talk to executives and other people in the business is the best thing that could have happened.”

Jamison recommends the online OPWL program to anybody with a passion for learning and the discipline to hold themselves accountable for their schoolwork.

“If you have the drive and know that you can be manageable to your own timeline, making sure you’re logging in when you’re supposed to and getting your work done on time, you’re going to be successful,” she said. “You have to push yourself to be persistent.

“I would tell anyone considering this program to just do it. Try it. Go for it. Be open and honest with your professors and the people you’re working with. It’s a very flexible environment to be a part of as a professional.”


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