Audrey Jensen is taking her passion for education to the next level.
Jensen began her role as Doane University-Grand Island’s campus and outreach director on Aug. 6. She is responsible for leading the day-to-day operations of Doane’s College of Professional Studies Grand Island campus, which offers courses in eight undergraduate programs and two graduate programs (Master of Arts in Management and Master of Business Administration).
The first few months of her role have been “a whirlwind,” Jensen said. However, she said she loves it.
“It is continually growing and asking questions, which creates relationships with new people because I am forced to ask questions,” Jensen said. “It fulfills me in a way because I am able to many different tasks all the time. That is how elementary education was for me. I did something different every day, I am working, thinking and being innovative. That is what this position has allowed me to do.”
Jensen comes to Doane University-Grand Island after serving as a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Wasmer Elementary. She also served as an adjunct professor at Doane and as a full-time professor at Hastings College.
“Two years ago, I took a leave of absence — a sabbatical — from Grand Island Public Schools,” Jensen said. “As I took that leave, I was going to race in a triathlon. This position became available and it was of high interest to me.”
Despite having an interest in the Doane position, Jensen said she did not have the skill set or the credentials for the position. In her year of sabbatical, she said, she worked in higher-education to gain the experience necessary for the job.
“When this position became available, I had people contacting me in regards to this position being a good fit for me,” Jensen said. “I am highly invested in Grand Island, was clearly passionate about Doane and came from a world of academia. So, I put my name in the hat.”
She added she is working to grow Doane in Grand Island and is doing outreach to different businesses.
“I have already begun to work with different businesses in town,” Jensen said. “I have been going out and asking them about tuition reimbursement and investing in their employees. We are already looking at ways that we can partner with the new hospital that is being built. We are looking at how we can partner with GIPS with the academies. I am on one of the boards with that. I work with all the different aspects of how we keep the campus running and growing.”
Jensen said she looks forward to growing Doane University-Grand Island’s student population as its new campus and outreach director. She said she wants to look at serving traditional college students in addition to non-traditional students. Currently, Doane University-Grand Island primarily serves non-traditional students with its night and online classes.
“They are all adult learners who work during the day, are parents and spouses, and come to class at night,” Jensen said. “What we find now, though, is that traditional students also have an interest in degrees in that same capacity where they can work during the day and go to class at night.”
In her new position, Jensen said she is connecting with students by walking the halls and connecting with them shortly before classes begin at 6 p.m. She added she has enjoyed hearing the “fabulous ideas” students have about how to grow Grand Island and Doane.
This semester, Jensen said, she is getting outside her office and teaching two courses as an adjunct professor: a liberal arts education seminar course and an interpersonal communications course.
“That fills my soul. When you are an educator, you are always an educator,” she said. “I am overjoyed that I get the opportunity to be in the classroom. It is a challenge, but it is the same as our students are doing. They are balancing a career and school. As a teacher, I love it. I am just amazed that you find a way to make it work because it is just a part of you. It is a joy to teach because I get to learn alongside my students.”