Business owner, mom diversifies with KUEC’s integrated marketing communications master’s degree

Rising Up at KUEC: In this Q & A series, outstanding 2020 KU graduates share how KU Edwards Campus has helped them start, advance or change their career. Meet Megan Neher.

Megan Neher and family

With 17 years as a public relations business owner, you wouldn’t think 49-year-old Megan Neher would still have anything left to learn. Instead, she found her integrated marketing master’s degree classes gave her new strategies she could immediately apply. Neher will graduate with a Master of Journalism degree in Integrated Marketing Communications in May and has already landed a college teaching job.

Neher said she learned a great deal during her return to college life. She mastered juggling the activities of two high schoolers, running her own agency, fulfilling her volunteer responsibilities, and earning high marks in her master’s course with ease. She credits help from her husband, David, with her ability to succeed and is excited to share the virtual graduation stage with son, Zachary, who graduates from Shawnee Mission South High School. Her daughter, Natalie, is 16 years old and is a sophomore at the same high school.

Learn how Neher achieved her dream of teaching college by earning her master’s degree at KUEC.

Q: What has been a typical day in your life like as a student attending KUEC?

A: I’ve been working from home for the past 17 years. It’s one of the best things about having my own company. I’ve enjoyed flexibility when my kids were young, could keep my eyes on them when they got older and was able to establish a business model of servicing clients with subcontractors – most of whom were also seasoned PR professional moms working from their own homes.

Q: What makes you the happiest?

A: A chance to relax! I’m happiest when I’m enjoying some downtime with friends or family, going out to dinner in K.C. on a fabulous patio, traveling to a beach or lake or even “staying in” for a fun night of kicking back.

Q: What motivates you?

A: My work motivates me. Because I work for myself, I get geekily excited about my clients’ businesses and doing a superior job to make my clients happy. I love feeling engaged in my client’s challenges and successes. It’s exhilarating to be a part of something where I can contribute my best, build relationships and commit to solving problems.

Q: Why did you choose KUEC?

A: I’ve wanted to get my master’s degree for a few years, but I was waiting for the right time in my life. KU was right for me because I live in Overland Park, and I know what a great reputation the IMC program has.

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

A: Investing in an advanced degree was a big commitment for me as a small business owner; however, I had a goal in mind. I wanted to teach college. I’m proud to report that even though I hadn’t completed my master’s degree yet, I’ve been able to work as an adjunct college instructor this past year at UCM and hope to continue to teach college in the K.C. area in the future.

Q: How has your KU degree prepared you for the future?

A: I knew I needed the degree to teach college, but I also understood that I’ve been in this industry for more than two decades. I wondered if the courses wouldn’t be challenging. That was not the case! I walked away from every class with new knowledge that I was able to apply to my client work immediately.

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

A: The most difficult part was juggling school, family and client work. My husband is very understanding and helped as much as humanly possible. Without his help, I couldn’t have overcome this challenge and would never have graduated! Thank you, David Neher! As a chronic procrastinator, the other way I overcame the challenges was to have “to do” lists on every sticky note, every notebook, every computer and every cell phone app available.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?

A: Graduation!

Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at KUEC?

A: I opted for the three-week, every-evening Capstone class during Winter Intersession the past winter break. I don’t know if this class is a regular option, but it was in 2019-2020. This class builds memories because you spend every evening (along with some days too) with the same seven or eight classmates working on your Capstone project (final thesis-esk paper). The result: an amazing presentation/marketing plan for our client, lots of snacks were consumed and we didn’t kill one another!

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

A: I hope to teach college with my new degree. I’m not exactly sure what that will look like yet, but I won’t be giving up my business or my amazing clients! I think I can find a balance of both, where I can bring real-world experience to the classroom, continue to mentor college-aged students and stay up-to-speed with current marketing, PR and social media practices through my client work.

Q: 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?

A: My son is starting out on his college journey this fall, and now that I’ve been working with college students for a while, I think a lot about my advice to undergraduates. Things are changing pretty drastically for higher education today. I couldn’t imagine my life without college. Not only do I credit my college education to my success in life, but I believe it remains one of the most important decisions a young person can make.

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