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Developing Leadership Skills for Change Management 
How One Student Applies Masters Study to a Career in Human Resources
By the University of Florida

Shay Potts is a University of Florida master's student studying in agricultural education and communication (AEC) with a focus on leadership. Shay works as an Instructional Designer on the Training and Organizational Development team in Human Resource Services also at the University of Florida (UF). In this capacity, leading change and improving the performance of all UF faculty and staff is in the forefront of her mind.

"Change management is always where it starts," said Potts, of her work in Training and Organizational Development. She cited her experiences in the Planned Change course as providing not only insight but also actionable information to help her make decisions about the courses and programs that she develops. "Leading transitions to new technology or a new procedure across any organization, large or small, requires a lot of knowledge to do it right."

Potts also commented on the regular interplay of her coursework in leadership with the development of leadership programming offered through her department.

"We offer a lot of opportunities to develop leadership in individuals and departments across campus from online job aids to facilitating retreats. As I am working on these projects, I find myself referring back to articles and activities from classes like Organizational Leadership and bringing them directly into my work... Developing the leadership skills of others as well as working on my own skills is a natural progression as you study," said Potts. 

Commenting on how she sees her role as a leader now and in the future, Potts stated, "In my work and personally, if I see a need for something, I try my best to fulfill that need. In the future, I hope to provide guidance and support to other working professionals in the form of professional development, leadership training, and organizational retreats."

Even though Potts resides in Gainesville and works on campus, the demands of her job would not allow her study during the day or make it to regularly scheduled classes. The program is well organized but very flexible in adapting to the needs of its students who are employed in the fields of agricultural education, extension, communication and leadership.

Potts also says that the academic support offered through this program is excellent.

"I was an undergraduate student in AEC and I knew the quality of the professors and how committed they are to the students." As Shay begins working on her project in lieu of thesis as a capstone to her Master's program, she notes that, "I know that as I work on this project, I can call on my advisor anytime to get the guidance I need. The devotion from the faculty to the students really sets AEC apart!" 

For more information about earning a Master of Science or Graduate Certificate online at the University of Florida click here