“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
This new series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.
I don’t know how to best begin this introduction. I always say that I would want to be besties with celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Kendrick or Taylor Swift. These women just really seem to own who they are. They are sassy, talented, hysterical and whether its true or not, have us all convinced that what you see is what you really get. I’m saying all this because by the end of this blog post I’m pretty certain you will want to be besties with the gal I’m featuring today. Meet Jancey, she’s all of those things above, and more. She was one of the first friends I made my freshman year at K-State. You see, my little sister is also named Janci, and at a meet-and-greet for wanna-be future College of Ag Ambassadors I stood up in the middle of the crowd and yelled,”Whose name is Jancey?” I had decided that meeting this girl who shared my sister’s name would make me less homesick, and not only did she walk over and introduce herself (despite the weird look she was giving me) but she ended up becoming one of my best friends. I could write an endless blog post on all of our adventures in college and post grad when we both started our careers working for Kansas commodity groups, but that’s for another day.
I am excited for you to hear Jancey’s story. She has a huge heart for serving others and for the agriculture industry. She has a lot to share about highs and lows of being a young professional, and her post today is incredibly genuine. Did I also mention that she is seriously funny? I promise she’ll make you smile and laugh.
Name: Jancey Saunders Hall
Hometown: Neodesha, KS
College: Kansas State University
Degree(s): Agriculture Economics
Current Location: Manhattan, KS
Current Job: Program Manager at Kansas Soybean
I was born in Dorothy’s hometown in Southwest Kansas, Liberal. My Mom is a teacher and my Dad was in the ag industry. I moved to Southeast Kansas when I was a wee tot. My Dad passed away from cancer, so my Mom was a B.A. single parent and raised 2 kids and a menagerie of animals including dogs, goose, tortoises, and more! I was involved in all the things growing up except anything involving fine arts. To graduate high school you had to have a fine arts credit and a language didn’t count (lame), so they put me in choir. Most days I had a pass from either of my ag advisers or our school counselor (the choir teachers wife) excusing me for being late. They didn’t put a time on it and if they did they always put like 5 minutes after I left them so that I could take my time and talk with the art teacher on my way. I think my choir teacher was OK with this because in order for me to think I’m a good singer my car volume has to be at least a 57 on its max of 62. I’m a lover of books, mac and cheese, the color purple, corny jokes, smiling, Mexican food, roller blades, and the Oxford Comma.
(Note from Amanda: I do NOT believe in the Oxford comma, and I’m pretty sure Jancey added that just to see if I would go through and edit them all out… which I didn’t, even though it pained me not to.)
How did you choose your college and your major?
I’m a 4th generation Wildcat and I would’ve been a 5th if my great grandma would’ve been allowed by her dad to go to college (she wanted to!). My Dad was on judging teams at K-State, my Mom was on the volleyball team starting in its second year as a program, and my family is from Manhattan and owned the city dairy for years. Purple is kind of in my blood and Manhattan has always been my second home.
I majored in Ag Economics aka ‘I don’t know what I want to do when I have to #adult and this has a lot of courses that can be applied to a lot of majors, but I’m never going to be able to make a decision to switch so in four years I’ll leave with an AgEcon degree.’
Probably not the recommended way to choose.
What were you involved in outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I was an Ag Ambassador and I served as the College of Ag’s honor code representative (sitting on the panels who listen to cases involving honor code violations aka kind of scary/intense stuff. Trust me, cheating is not worth it, EVER). The organization that had the biggest impact that I was involved in was Alpha of Clovia, a 4-H based cooperative living house of 62 girls. We did all of our own cooking and cleaning. Well, I didn’t cook because I love to lick spoons and don’t care about food safety things #ImmuneSystemOfSteelPerks, but I cleaned a lot of bathrooms…
What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Well, I definitely wouldn’t tell you ‘it’s fine’ to not be engaged/be in a serious committed relationship or that ‘it’s fine’ that you don’t have a full time job on graduation day and ‘you’ll figure it out… eventually.’ Those people deserve to be slapped. (Shout out to my Mom for teaching me that just because someone says something you don’t like, doesn’t mean you can slap them. Sorry about kicking you in the shins with my football cleats that one time in 5th grade.)
But here’s the thing. Even if they are the worst, those people are kind of right… Keep working hard, loving life, growing, and just being you. Everyone’s life path is different and although that tends to make me anxious, it’s a good thing. In the past 2.5 years since I’ve graduated sometimes I’ve felt on top of the world and blasted T-Swift on my commute home and danced like I wasn’t driving a major interstate at 83 mph. Sometimes I haven’t and I’ve blasted T-Swift and balled my eyes out on my commute home like I wasn’t driving a more conservative 81 mph on a major interstate. Life happens and I think God really just likes to laugh at our (well at least my) plans. So I’m going to do my best, enjoy the ride, love fully, and make the world a better place while I’m here. It will turn out somehow and even if everything’s not alright (because life definitely isn’t perfect) you will make it through. Look beside you at your support system and trust me, those people love you a whole lot. Find your people and you’ll never be alone.
On an unrelated tangent… find a mentor at your school- a boss, professor, just someone you admire and trust and bother them a lot. Continuing bothering them after you graduate. Also, when you graduate find other people to bother. You’ll thank me later.
Tell us about your career so far?
I started as an intern and then I was hired full time. I work for Kansas farmers, and MY farmers are the best (no they are not mine, but I’m possessive about things). I work on their behalf to do a conglomerate of things from talking to farmers at farm shows, showing 4th graders how soy touches their everyday lives, and more. Soybeans are THE coolest crop and have many uses. I could talk for hours about what all I get to do because soybeans are ‘da bomb.’
How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
My senior year of college I had some incredible bosses that expected a lot out of you, but let you figure out how to get it done, yet they were always there if you needed them. Combine that with my role that was juggling a lot of humans, many I had never met, with unexpected surprises of the good and bad variety popping up at any second and having as little as no seconds to figure out how to handle the situation. The skills and lessons I learned that year have taught me about having a solid plan, but being able to roll with the winds as they change if needed. So valuable not only in my career, but all things life.
On the flip side, what are your biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
I never realized how dependent I was on relational time with my gal pals to thrive. I mean, I lived with 62 girls and had friends in college outside of my house so even if I wanted to escape them I couldn’t. Now, I work primarily with guys and they are great, but it’s not the same. I’ve been able to develop some strong friendships and mentors with others in my industry and just realized how to better connect with those gals I used to see a million times a day, but now only see here and there.
What apps, technology, and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
Oh my goodness gracious, I could go on for hours about my Emily Ley Simplified Planner. If you want me to elaborate, I can, but I’ll stop for now… I really hate always having a phone on me so I constantly battle my desire to be super techy and my desire to live in a log cabin in the back woods with no Wifi.
At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
I love sending personal notes of the snail mail variety, because when I receive them it makes my heart sing and although I’m forever behind on birthday cards, I excel in going thru a lot of postage stamps. Legitimately, there is nothing as special as receiving a handwritten note, so why not send more? For November I’ve written a note every day to someone I’m thankful for as part of #Thankfulemeber (I just like making up words). I’ve sent them to people I see every day, those I just see here and there or only on social media, and to those I haven’t seen in ages, but impacted my life in some way/shape/form. It’s actually been really random. It’s kind of crazy how doing this every day has taught me to look at every human and ask myself ‘why am I grateful for their existence’ – it makes you love other humans more. It’s really nothing revolutionary, but it’s one thing I can do each day to make others smile- even if you do it just once a week, I know it’ll change your outlook. On the flip side, spelling/grammar and concise writing is not my strength. I’m working on that and learning how to use spell check in excel.
How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
For me, it’s the opposite. How do I stay motivated when work is slow and I have no pressing things coming at me? Things to work on.
Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
Realizing that even if I feel alone, I’m not. Leaning on those gal pals that I have and telling them ‘yo, I need a heart to heart/I miss you and to cry and/or to dance and/or to eat cheese dip, can we make that happen soon’.
What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
I’ve been able to work with some really awesome humans on developing programs to take those not directly involved in the ag industry yet interested/passionate about it (see also, they like to eat) and connecting them with farmers. Seeing light bulb moments when something clicks for them and how speaking with one of our farmers impacts their perspective is SO INCREDIBLY COOL. Also, having humans understand where their food comes from and how as we get more generations removed from the farm every day is vital. Foolishly, when we started these I just thought that we would be teaching them something, but the women (they don’t have to be female but they have been) have taught me so much on these programs and continue to inspire me long after they are over. I’m grateful for all they teach and inspire me to do/learn/see/grow.
What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
I like to roller blade because it feels like you can fly. This one time a 5th grader actually told me it was lame and I told him he was a bully and then I listened to Shake it Off by T-Swift. I live with my Grandma who is basically snow white. Seriously though, living with my gram is the best. I want to make a quilt and become a consistent crocheter. I also really love hanging out with my Gram’s cronies and helping out the American Legion when they do different projects/programs.
Just for Fun
How many alarms do you set in the morning?
17 – I really need to establish a firm bedtime/wake up time so this won’t be such a problem. I usually wake up on the 11th alarm. Sometimes it’s the 2nd and sometimes it’s the 16th.
Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workplace?
I am constantly trying to get un-addicted to Dr. Pepper and Mt. Dew.
If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
An event and wedding planner and/or a teacher. Both of those have been major life considerations since I was 6 and dreaming about having my own classroom, imagining light bulbs clicking and making intense party schedules and to-do lists. My current job actually manages to combine some aspects of both of those jobs, which is strange in a good way.
Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
The sleeping porches, which meant 30-some girls in bunk beds in one giant room. They were freezing so I slept basically in a cocoon. We weren’t supposed to talk, but I always ended up on the obnoxious sleeping porch where that was kind of OK if you whispered. Pranks were played. To some it probably seems nightmarish but for me it was just the best.
(Note From Amanda: Fun fact… these sleeping porches were the ONLY reason I chose Smurthwaite Scholarship House over Clovia. To each their own.)
What’s the best interaction with law enforcement have you had?
Well one time I was taking food to our tailgate and it was realllllly windy and the lid to my truck wouldn’t stay down with rope and so I had to rearrange the food (it was in warmers). A state trooper ended up stopping and helping me. I tried to thank him with ribs and cookies.
What’s your #1 bucket list item?
To see all 50 states. I just visited Nebraska for my 25th state in my 25th year (yes it’s ridiculous that it’s an hour from me and I’ve never been there…). I really just love adventures.
What am I most proud of on this questionnaire?
That I didn’t substitute “so” with “soy” once. For me, that’s kind of remarkable.
Jancey, thank you so much for sharing a little piece of yourself in this post. The world is a better place because there are people like you in it. I can’t wait for you to visit me in January!
As always, thanks for reading friends!