The CourAGE to Care
Do You Have The CourAGE to Care?
The department of gerontology launched an outreach campaign to attract new and returning students to pursue an education in aging. The campaign entitled, The CourAGE to Care, will feature students, alumni and community agencies where our graduates are now working. We want others to see what we see – The CourAGE to Care in action! We look forward to sharing student and alumni stories with you.
When I started my working career, I thought I wanted to be an accountant. However, while working in an accounting department for 9 ½ years I realized that I wanted to work with people and fell in love with the wellness field. My interest in worksite wellness began when I was the team captain for our corporate American Heart Association (AHA) heart walk team. While at an AHA board meeting to receive our trophy for being the number one fundraising team, I was introduced the heart association “Heart at Work” program. I realized how important wellness was and wrote a proposal to start a wellness program at the real estate company which I worked. Our president asked me to start a program utilizing the Heart at Work kit. He also asked me to research what other companies were doing in worksite wellness.
In that quest, I was introduced to an undergraduate certificate in worksite health promotion at Nebraska Methodist College. I thought this WAS my educational journey when I decided to enroll in the program. I had no intentions to go any further educationally, I wanted the education to help me run a quality wellness program at my worksite. This program and the implementation of a wellness program at my worksite, made me realize wellness was to be my career path.
In 1997, Nebraska Methodist College launched an accelerated Master of Science in Health Promotion with an emphasis in Human Resources Management program. I realized I would have a hard time finding a full-time wellness job with a certificate if others had a master’s degree in the field. My new goal was to enroll in the health promotion master’s program. I completed an accelerated bachelor of science in Management of Human Resources at Bellevue University which was a good stepping stone for the master’s program which I begin in August of 1998.
In 1997, I was also hired at Nebraska Methodist College as the Coordinator of Health Promotions. I had a full-time job in wellness! After graduating with my MS degree in 2000, I once again thought my educational journey was done. However, I became faculty teaching in the certificate of health promotions program. To grow in faculty rank, a PhD is important, so my journey continued in 2003 when I enrolled in the Human Sciences PhD program.
My career and educational journey were moving along well until July 5, 2006 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39. I took a break from my PhD program to go through surgery and treatment. I eventually decided I wasn’t going back to the program because I had made a job change, which the degree was not needed. At the time, the cost and effort seemed way more than the benefit of having the degree.
However, in 2010 I missed being in the wellness field and was lucky to be hired as the Wellness Manager for UNMC’s EngAge Wellness, a medical-fitness/whole-person wellness program. Working at an educational institution again, I decided it was time to complete my PhD. In December 2013, ten years after enrolling in the Ph.D. program, I finally graduated as Dr. Jeannie Hannan! It was a long bumpy journey, but well worth it!
I love working with the older adult population in their wellness journey. It is very rewarding when someone is able to go off of a medication, or recover faster from a surgery because of the programs we offer. Exercise truly is medicine!
The U.S. population is aging and we do not have enough professionals in the field. I encourage you to have The CourAGE to Care and pursue a degree in Gerontology!
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