Alumni Spotlight: January 2019 – Dr. Crystal Boson

Senior Learning Designer for Cerner Corporation, a health information and EHR technologies company.

American Studies Department:

What is your area of study?

I was in the American Studies Department from 2010-2014. My specialization areas were in Black Religion, Quare Theory, Popular Culture and Performance Theory. My work specifically focused on the representations of the faith of Hoodoo in popular culture (movies, television shows, adult entertainment, and video games) and how the constructed images around the faith marginalized and demonized the practice and practitioners.

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What does your day to day work life look like?

So fun question, as I recently changed jobs within the company. In my old role, I developed a really cool, active, practice-driven leadership curriculum that coached leaders to be more culturally and self-aware. I got to use Color Theory and a lot of really interesting narrative and visual elements to make a beautiful and effective curriculum. In my new role, I’m in charge of the strategy, design, creation, and archiving of skill and competency-based training for subcontractors as part of Cerner’s contract with the VA. I build a mix of trainings for classrooms, mobile and virtual settings for a really huge population of learners. I get to do a lot of cool stuff with Adult Learning Theory, Color Theory, and Learning Accessibility.

What is your favorite aspect of your job/career?

I love how much creative and logistical freedom I have in my current role. I’m getting to set the pace and plan for how we are going to deliver and modernize learning for the learning space I’m working in. It’s really cool work I can do from multiple different locations.

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What advice do you have for current graduate students?

Oh, I have a lot of advice to be honest. The first is to really think about if you actually want to stay in the academy. Really think about it. I left a tenure track job that I was told to be grateful to have because I realized the academy was not the right space for me. It’s a great place if its where you want to be, but there are other options out there. The second is make sure you take care of yourself in every step of this process. Give as much care to yourself, your feelings, your mental health, and the relationships that matter to you as you give to your dissertation, comps, classwork, etc. The books will always be there. The third is to not be afraid to reach out to people and ask for mentorship and guidance. This goes for in and outside of the academy. I did not ask enough questions as a grad student about what being an Assistant Professor was really like. I asked a ton of questions and did a ton of informational interviews while I was looking for a corporate job, and found something I’m pretty happy with. Having a strong network will be a solid lifeline for you, no matter what area you are working in.

What path did you take to get to where you’re at now?

  1. PhD program at KU: 2010-2014
  2. Assistant Professor at Oregon State: 2014-2015
  3. Program Learning Coordinator: SBG Technology Solutions- Washington DC 2015-2017
  4. Sr. Learning Partner- Cerner 2017-2018
  5. Sr. Learning Designer- Cerner 2018-now