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Kansas State University

Experience Is the Best Teacher: Continuing Education Professional in South Dakota Pursues Master’s Degree through K-State Distance Education

Carey Kilmer is all about learning. She works in an office at South Dakota State University that provides services to adult learners, is an adult learner herself, and is completing a degree through Kansas State University that will help her better meet the needs of the adult learners she serves.

A resident of Brookings, S.D., Kilmer is pursuing her master’s degree online in adult and continuing education through Kansas State University’s distance education program.

She works in South Dakota State University’s office of continuing and extended education as a student services facilitator. She’s been to Kansas State University once, visiting in December 2011.

Kilmer says being both a continuing education facilitator and a distance education student allows her to simultaneously work at South Dakota State in one capacity while gaining the skills necessary to be effective in a more demanding role.

"I decided I really needed to explore some options to further my education," Kilmer said. "K-State really offered that flexibility to be able to take all the courses in an online environment, which is very important to me."

Kilmer said her online learning experience through K-State has been academically challenging, but the program’s engaging structure has kept her focused and interested.

"It’s not just writing papers," she said. "There have been a lot of discussions. I’ve done a couple wiki projects, collaborating with other students in class to create a wiki page. That’s been very rewarding."

The regular communication via course discussion boards among students and faculty has heightened the connectivity Kilmer said she feels with her instructors and fellow online learners. The student culture, according to Kilmer, is an interactive and encouraging one.

"The students have been very welcoming and willing to share information," she said. "It’s been a great community of people to work with and learn from."

Kilmer said the faculty for the online adult and continuing education program has been hands-on and integral to her success. The professors respond in a timely fashion to emails and are active on the discussion boards.

"I think there are expectations when taking an online course that the instructor is going to be responsive when questions are out there," she said. "They’ve all been really timely. I think that’s great, and it’s important in keeping those students engaged that don’t have all of those connections with face-to-face instructors."

Kilmer has already begun implementing the lessons learned in her courses to her South Dakota State University job, but staying in her current position there doesn’t align with her plans. She intends to use her education to ascend the ranks and actualize goals of influencing the office’s plans and procedures.

"My real goal is to have that education and knowledge to be able to push myself forward in my career and open some doors to make things happen at the university I work with," Kilmer said.

More information about Kansas State University’s adult and continuing education program is available at http://www.dce.k-state.edu/education/leadership/adult/, or by contacting the Division of Continuing Education at 1-800-622-2578 or informationdce@k-state.edu.