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#WhyIChoseEducation: ‘Education Is a Career Trajectory That Allows You to Learn a Whole Lot in Order to Understand It Yourself, But Also to Share It With Other People,’ Says Jennifer Buelin ’12PHD

A headshot of Jennifer Buelin with the text: Education Is a Career Trajectory That Allows You to Learn a Whole Lot in Order to Understand It Yourself, But Also to Share It With Other People

When Jennifer Buelin ’12PHD left her job as a technical theater teacher to earn her doctoral degree through the NC State College of Education’s technology education program, she never imagined it would one day lead to her working with the U.S. Department of Labor.

“An advanced degree opens doors that you don’t even imagine at the time it’s going to open,” said Buelin.

Buelin’s dissertation was focused on how to foster and assess creativity in technology education but, while completing her research, she found herself immersed in the study of quantitative methods. 

“I didn’t realize going into the program how important statistics, the study of statistics, is to everything in the universe,” Buelin said. 

A number of years after graduation, Buelin had the opportunity to apply the data analytics and instructional design skills she learned through the College of Education in a position at the ASHLIN Management Group, where she engages with organizations such as the U.S Department of Labor and Job Corps to increase access to the workforce. 

For example, Buelin is currently managing a grant through a program called PAsmart, which is funded by the state of Pennsylvania and is designed to match students at Harrisburg Area Community College with employers who are looking to hire medical assistants. 

“One of my favorite things about government work is making connections between national policy and young people who are trying to get into the workforce,” Buelin said.

Buelin may not have expected her career would lead her to supporting community college students in Pennsylvania, but she’s not surprised a degree in education helped her get there. 

“Once you learn how to teach people, how to educate people, how to do instructional design, then you’re able to put that in whatever kind of context your career requires,” Buelin said.

Why I Chose Education:

I like to go deeply into a topic, to study it, deconstruct it and understand it inside out. Education is a career trajectory that allows you to learn a whole lot in order to understand it yourself, but also to share it with other people.

How Education Shaped Me:

It’s just the idea that you can continue to learn, that you can continue to be curious, and I think that’s probably the most important character trait and practice, to take the methods we learned in the College of Education and apply them to everything. It’s so applicable. Whatever the context is, it just transfers into every other kind of pursuit.

What I Enjoyed Most About the NC State College of Education:

I absolutely loved the people, loved the faculty there, and I am still in touch with a bunch of them. I also liked the flexibility. Not a lot of people go into that program and say: “I’m going to apply quantitative methods to creativity studies.” And they just rolled with it.

What Others Should Know About the College of Education:

If you’re compelled to do an advanced degree and if you’re interested in how to solve problems through better design, putting yourself in an environment where that kind of exploration is supported and encouraged is just the best thing that you can do for yourself. 

The Last Thing That Inspired Me:

We just started our cohort of apprentices in medical offices, and they just started their coursework and their employment in early March. We got our updates from our employer group, the human resources directors who are trying to make this work. We had a meeting over lunch and almost all of them were nearly in tears because they would be like, “I found this person, and she had been in this position with the maintenance staff, but she really wanted to get into the medical side of things. Now she’s making more money, the apprenticeship is able to help offset her childcare costs a little bit and pay for tuition.” I find that to be very inspiring. We’re able to see the direct results on individuals’ lives for a program that we were able to put together.