Kansas State University


Graduate School

Across borders they go- K-State graduate alumni unite for international conference to provide expert advice on home economics

Graduate alumni Dr. Ming-shan Chang, ’99, Ph.D. in Adult, Occupational and Continuing Education, and Carolyn Jackson, ‘75 and ‘81, Master’s in Family Economics, visited Inner Mongolia this summer to present at High-end Forums on Trend of International Home Economics Development.

Dr. Ming-Shan Chang, associate professor for the Department of Recreating and Healthcare Management at Chia Nan University in Tainan City, Taiwan, and Carolyn Jackson, CEO of the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS), provide their experience presenting at the conference in Inner Mongolia. Chang discusses her career following earning a graduate degree at Kansas State University and provides advice to graduate students.

Describe your involvement in inviting Carolyn Jackson to give a presentation at the Conference in Inner Mongolia this summer

Dr. Ming-Shan Chang: In June, General Manager Wan, who owns a large home economics company in Shantung, invited me to China to speak to their society in Inner Mongolia from August 1-4. Since General Manager Wan and I have worked together in home economics curriculum design in the past, I immediately agreed to speak at the conference. The title of my presentation was “Quality Assessment for Home Economics Training Institutions as Serving Worldwide.”

A few days after I accepted the invitation to attend the conference, I was contacted by the coordinator of the conference requesting that I identify a scholar/expert from the United States to present at the conference. I asked Dr. Carol Shanklin, Dean of the Graduate School, for recommendations as who would be a knowledgeable and effective speaker since K-State alumni are the greatest resources.

Through the help and coordination of Dean Shanklin, Carolyn Jackson accepted the invitation to speak at the international conference. Having a K-State alumna share the stage with me at the conference was one of the most memorable events of my life.

Describe your experience visiting Inner Mongolia and presenting at the international conference

Ms. Carolyn JacksonIt was a growing experience! I had been told that the most interesting part about traveling to international countries, that is so different from traveling within the United States, is what you learn about yourself.  I learned that I am flexible, to a point.  When it didn’t look like my visa would come through in time to make my flight, I realized then that I am a fixer.  I called everyone I knew that might have a suggestion for what I should do and tried to find a way to intervene to get it on time.  When nothing worked, I learned that I could accept a delay or “defeat” when the issue was out of my control.

The Inner Mongolia conference was focused on educators, business owners and vendors who are involved in training, placement and evaluation of those who work in the family services industry in China. My presentation was to address trends in the United States and the implications for the field of family and consumer sciences assuming the two were synonymous-family services in China and family and consumer sciences in the United States.

Presenting at an international conference created both challenges and joys.  I asked lots of questions about the audience before I prepared my presentation but my understanding of their wants and needs was still at a surface level, at best.  In talking with my translator ahead of time, I was surprised the stories or ideas that just didn’t translate to their culture and knowledge base so that presented challenges.  The joys came from interacting with others, most of the time through non-verbal communication, and connecting despite our cultural differences and perspectives.

Describe how you felt to have two K-State alumni participate in the conference

Dr. Ming-Shan Chang: It was a very good experience to work with a graduate from Kansas State University. This experience felt as if we were on a team. It was an amazing experience.

What advice would you give other alumni or current graduate students about presenting at international conferences?

Dr. Ming-Shan Chang: Teamwork is the best way go about things in the future. Since K-State has a great network of alumni, we should work together. Once a K-State student, always a K-State student.

Describe your career after graduating from K-State including your current position

The following illustrates the diversity of the types of professional positions I have held throughout my career.

Dr. Ming-Shan Chang:

  • Associate Professor and Chairwoman, Department of Recreation Healthcare Management, Chia-nan University of Pharmacy and Technology
  • Ministry of Labor, Taiwan Training Quality System TTQS Evaluation Committee
  • Ministry of Labor, Small Business Human Resource Plan Consultant
  • Ministry of Labor, Labor Development Committee for Young People Employment Program
  • National Examination Committee for the Senior Civil Service Staff and General Examination
  • National Examination for the Civil Service officers of the higher three and general examination scoring committee
  • National Examination Committee for the National Civil Service
  • Lecture for Ministry of Economic Affairs Professional Research Center
  • Tainan City Industrial Development Advisory Committee for Tour
  • Tainan Municipal Government Labor Office Training Service and Employment Consultant

Carolyn Jackson: I have a varied and circular career path.  After graduating with my B.S. in Home Economics Education, I was an Extension Educator in Harvey County based out of Newton, KS.  While working and also taking a leave of absence, I finished my master’s at K-State in Family Economics/Household Equipment.  I then moved to the Washington DC area to take a position as director of membership for the American Home Economics Association (AHEA).  I returned to Kansas to be the campaign manager for congressional candidate, Dick Nichols and when he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for the 5th District, I served as his chief of staff on Capitol Hill back in Washington, DC again.  Following this position, I joined an international education organization to develop its public affairs division.  And after a brief stint as a consultant, I was selected for the current position – chief executive officer – with the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (formerly AHEA).

How has your graduate degree at K-State helped/facilitated your career success?

Dr. Ming-Shan Chang: K-State graduate school help my career be successful. I am so appreciative of the learning experience that lead me to have a successful life.

Carolyn Jackson: It gave me an appreciation for statistics and research, a sense of attention to detail and a “can do” attitude through persistence and patience!

How have you stayed engaged with K-State through the years?  What is your current engagement with K-State?

Dr. Ming-Shan Chang: My son is studying at K-State as an undergraduate student.

Carolyn Jackson: I continued to be mentored by professors and administrators as they became my colleagues in Kansas professional organizations.  Then, in my work with the congressional campaign and in the office of Kansas’ U.S. Representative Dick Nichols, K-Staters were key contacts.  And now, in returning to a professional position in the Human Ecology field, I have been fortunate enough to serve on the College of Human Ecology Alumni Advisory Board. I’m in my “senior year” of a 4-year term on the All University K-State Alumni Association Board of Directors.

What are some of your fondest memories of your time as a graduate student at K-State?

Dr. Ming-Shan Chang: I enjoyed spending time in the K-State Library – I spent lots of time in there. I also loved my advisor Dr. W Franklin Spikes, professor of educational leadership. He looked at things from different angles with sensitivity that has benefited me a lot.

Carolyn Jackson: My graduate work in family economics/household equipment in the College of Human Ecology, included courses “across campus” in engineering and construction sciences.  Without some of the typical academic background and focus, I had to work extra hard to absorb the theories and concepts.  I was really proud of actually excelling in those classes and in being a positive representative for my “home college” of Human Ecology.