Success Stories

Jene Kapela, Ed.D.

Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership and Higher Education Leadership

Earning a doctorate gave me the ability to conduct research, develop new curriculums for companies I’m working with, and gave me a broader understanding of how to work with a variety of people through different formats.

For Jene Kapela, Ed.D., earning a doctoral degree was the perfect way to transition from a career as an educator to an entrepreneur.

“I was able to combine my background in leadership programming with my passion for education,” said Kapela, who launched Kapela Leadership Solutions to help business clients with employee training, coaching, and development programs.

Kapela graduated from NSU’s Abraham S. Fischler College of Education in 2011 with a Doctor of Education degree, completing dual concentrations in Organizational Leadership and Higher Education Leadership.

“Going into the program, my background was in student affairs administration,” said Kapela, who worked as NSU’s director of student affairs for the regional campuses.

“The opportunity to work with NSU’s regional campuses developed my interest in how organizations work. That was the reason I added the dual track to my doctoral program. The higher education leadership skills were more applicable to a specific field, but the organizational leadership skills were applicable to any kind of work I might do in the future. I was strategic about adding that.”

Kapela left the NSU position in 2015 to focus on her business. She had previously worked at Florida International University and Leadership Broward Foundation, where she was director of programs. She stays connected to education as an adjunct professor at NSU, and she is launching a second business, Adventures in Voluntourism.

What are you doing now?

I am a leadership consultant. I have my own company. I mostly work with corporate clients and non-profits in employee training and development programs. That could mean recruiting, executive coaching, team-building retreats.

I like working with people who are new supervisors or mid-level managers in order to help them lead their teams effectively. My passion is to help people navigate transition so they can be successful.

Why did you pursue the doctoral program?

I was interested in possibly pursuing a high-level position in student affairs and a doctorate is necessary to do that. I also was interested in teaching. (Kapela also has a master’s degree Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia).

I am a passionate life-long learner. I enjoy the opportunity to learn, grow, and have options.

When and why did you develop an interest in education?

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of how people navigate transition. As an undergraduate, when I was saw the support services that college provides, I really wanted to work in the college environment and help others through the transition experience.

At NSU, I fell in love with the idea of being able to help adult learners through transition because most of the students at the regional campuses are non-traditional adult learners.

What I have learned is that we are always going through transitions. When you leave college, you’re transitioning into the work force. In the work force, you’re transitioning into a position where you are leading people–and that’s the area of most interest to me.  

How did the Ed.D. prepare you to lead a business?

Earning a doctorate gave me the ability to conduct research, develop new curriculums for companies I’m working with, and gave me a broader understanding of how to work with a variety of people through different formats.

Experiencing the online component helped me incorporate technology into the work I do with clients because I have some clients whom I worked with remotely.

How has the degree helped you professionally?

Being introduced with that title adds a certain legitimacy with others, and it gives me more confidence to market myself. It shows that I have put the time and effort into pursuing this. It also helps me present myself as someone with experience.

What inspired you to make the leap and apply at NSU? What were you looking for? 

It was always a goal to have that terminal degree.  I wanted something that was meaningful to me and that was transferable. I was looking for a program that was practical and that focused on the application of career skills, as opposed to a strictly theoretical, academic program. I found that here.

Why did you choose NSU to pursue your Ed.D.?

NSU’s program was very flexible. All of the faculty members had real-world experience. Each contributed something that made me a better student and a better learner. I was surprised how much I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and challenged to try new things.

Advice for prospective students who are considering applying?

It is a commitment and you have to be clear that it’s a commitment that you want to make. The results just in terms of personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment are well worth it, aside from all the other benefits.

What are your new goals, future projects?

I teach two classes at NSU and I would like to teach more if there is a possibility. I want to stay connected to the educational community.

I’m also launching a new company, Adventures in Voluntourism, that will give people the opportunity to have a true cultural experience in the community where they’re vacationing, and to participate in volunteer activities. My goal with this company is to create something new that is a business opportunity and combines my passion for education, community involvement, and travel.