With eyes on community outreach, KUEC public administration senior earns Undergraduate Research Award

Rising up at KUEC: In this Q&A series, outstanding 2023 KU students share how the KU Edwards Campus has helped them start, advance, or change their career. Meet Jordan Tanner.

Rising up at KUEC: In this Q&A series, outstanding 2023 KU students share how the KU Edwards Campus has helped them start, advance, or change their career. Meet Jordan Tanner.

Jordan Tanner, 28, is a senior in the Undergraduate Public Administration Degree Program at the KU Edwards Campus who recently received an Undergraduate Research Award for her proposal for Vote Center Adoption in the U.S. A longtime Jayhawk fan from Liberty, MO, she looked to the University of Kansas’ top-ranked public administration program when deciding what university to attend.

“When I decided to go back to school to pursue a career in public service, it just worked out that KU has an amazing public administration program offered at the Edwards Campus, which is incredibly convenient for me. The stars just aligned for me to end up at KU.”

Find out more about Jordan, her research, and her journey at KU.

What is a typical day in your life like?

I am dedicating a lot of time to school right now, so I typically spend about 10-12 hours a day on schoolwork. I like to get the most out of my studies, so I really buckle down with my readings and other related material. When I am done for the day, I tend to unwind with quality couch time or having dinner with friends and family. 

What makes you the happiest?

Spending quality time with friends and family and participating in community events! Since I am spending so much time on school at the moment, those periods of quality time are few and far between. When I get them, I cherish them. Also, I am a HUGE baseball fan. With baseball season around the corner, I am about to indulge in some nine-inning happiness.

What motivates you?

Helping the community is what motivates me. I joined the PA program wanting to go into non-profit work and have gotten into local government as well with my studies. Anything that will ensure my community is being treated fairly and getting any needed help definitely lights up my fire.

How did KUEC meet your personal and/or academic needs?

I started as an adult student at KU at age 27 living in Wyandotte County, so it was better for me personally to do my classes at Edwards, as opposed to the Lawrence campus. KUEC meets my academic goals because the class sizes are small and I am able to get good one-on-one time with professors when I need it. This has helped me learn better and get the most out of my education.

How has your degree prepared you for the future? 

My journey to get my degree has prepared me in numerous ways. A couple that come to mind are understanding the values of public administration, and how those play out in real life. Acting in accordance with the main values emphasized in this program will make me a better public servant, for sure. It has also shown me what is possible within this field; I never saw myself as a researcher before coming to KU, and now here I am doing original research in election administration! 

What is your proudest accomplishment?

The Undergrad Research Award is easily my proudest accomplishment. I never would have thought I was capable of earning an award like this before entering into the program at KU. The professors I have had here have definitely made me a better student worthy of this opportunity, and this award proves to me that my studies, hard work, and dedication have paid off. This accomplishment also shows me that my future opportunities can be things I never imagined possible.

What was the most difficult part of earning your college degree and how did you overcome it?

The most difficult part for me was definitely restructuring my life in order to complete the program. I was working as a pastry chef when I decided to start this program, so I had to restructure my work life in order to make room for school. I was only able to overcome this with the amazing support system of friends and family in my life. Words of encouragement and help figuring out a new work routine from everyone in my life is how I have been able to get to where I am now. 

What is your favorite memory of your time at KUEC?

My favorite memory at KUEC is sort of bittersweet. My first semester was in 2021 when in-person classes were just resuming, and everyone was meeting in-person for the first time in what felt like years. There was a shared feeling of hesitancy and togetherness in those first semesters that was odd, but it was comforting knowing everyone (teachers and students) was in this together. The semester where we all met without masks for the first time was also pretty memorable!

What are your long-term career goals and how do you plan to achieve them?

This is a tough question to answer, and one I’ve been asked a lot lately, but this research award sort of shakes my career plans up a bit. I definitely plan to come back to KU to pursue my MPA, and hope to work as a city manager someday. Since winning this award, however, I am starting to give serious thought to a career in research and/or election administration. 

What advice would you give others who are thinking of earning a degree, whether a first-time bachelor’s, a second bachelor’s, or a master’s?

Do it when the time is right for you. I tried going straight to college right after high school, but it just wasn’t the right time for me back then. I was really self-conscious about starting school in my late 20’s, but I was much more certain about what I wanted in life, and took school more seriously. When I did finally start my undergrad, it was at the right time for me. It is a major commitment, so do what you need to get your ducks in row, and dedicate what time you can. There is no single way to get it done; make it your own journey that’s best suited for you.

Learn more about the Undergraduate Public Administration Degree Program
Learn more about KU’s Undergraduate Research Awards

Learn more about the Public Administration program

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