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University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies releases whitepaper on role of demographics in career optimism

By Sharla Hooper

Authors from Center for Educational and Instructional Technology Research draws on findings of 2022 Career Optimism Index® study

University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies has released a new whitepaper, “The Role of Demographics in American Workers’ Career Optimism,” a collaboration between authors Meryl P. Epstein, Ed.D., MFA, Roxanne Jordan, Ed.D., Joann Kovacich, Ph.D., L’Tanya Simien-Robnett, MSN, and Jodee Ledford, MEd, as a project of the College’s Center for Educational and Instructional Technology Research (CEITR).

Drawing upon data from the 2022 University of Phoenix Career Institute® Career Optimism Index® study, the whitepaper research team conducted a quantitative study of the raw survey data gathered by University of Phoenix to produce the Index to explore how diverse groups of individuals perceive their current and future employment prospects. The whitepaper examines demographic data to test the strength of the relationship of multiple variables in influencing a participant’s career optimism and develop a predictive model.

“The results of the analyses included in this study helped to identify areas of concern and impact on career optimism for employees – such as job security, financial instability, affordable childcare, maintaining health and fitness, and political engagement,” states Epstein. “In the wake of the pandemic, employers have an opportunity to reconsider the nature of work, what matters to their employees, and be creative as well as collaborative in enhancing career optimism for many.”

Epstein has extensive experience in design, education, and leading academic teams and has served as dean of Academic Affairs, program chair, and doctoral development faculty at University of Phoenix. In addition to conducting quantitative research, Epstein has also led design teams for several museums. Epstein holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Argosy University, a Master of Fine Arts from Arizona State University, and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Jordan’s career in higher education and non-profit organizations spans over twenty-five years. As College of Doctoral Studies faculty, Jordan facilitates educational leadership courses and is Chair of Dissertation Committees for diverse students that represent varied sectors of education. Jordan earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, a Master of Business Administration from Anna Maria College, and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Sarasota.

Kovacich is an associate faculty in the College of Doctoral Studies and an independent researcher, consultant, and small business owner with over 30 years of higher education experience. She has worked on various federally funded projects as principal investigator and project director, and co-developed self-study web-based modules for health care professionals.  Kovacich holds a doctorate in Law, Policy, and Society from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s from Kent State University.

Simien-Robnett possesses over 38 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in acute health care settings, and over 25 years in healthcare management.  She has opened a pediatric program, bone marrow transplant program, and a liver transplant program at Cedars Sinai Hospital and a Perinatal Diagnostic Center and Sweet Success Program in central Los Angeles, CA. Simien-Robnett obtained her BSN and MSN from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and has certification in nursing management. She has been faculty with University of Phoenix for 15 years.

Ledford is a Certified Master of Career Services practitioner with over 20 years of experience and encompasses the credentials to certify other professionals in career counseling. She is an education doctoral student at the University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies and previously completed a master’s degree with American InterContinental University and a bachelor’s degree at Ferris State University. Ledford is a Certified Professional Life Coach, Nationally Certified Salary Specialist and holds a Master Federal Government Career Advisor Certification.

The full whitepaper is available at the University of Phoenix Career Institute® webpage or as a direct link here.

About the College of Doctoral Studies

University of Phoenix’s College of Doctoral Studies focuses on today’s challenging business and organizational needs, from addressing critical social issues to developing solutions to accelerate community building and industry growth. The College’s research program puts students in the center of an effective ecosystem of experts, resources and tools to help prepare them to be a leader in their organization, industry and community. Through this program, students and researchers work with organizations to conduct research that can be applied in the workplace in real time.

About the Career Optimism Index®

The Career Optimism Index® study is one of the most comprehensive studies of Americans’ personal career perceptions to date. The University of Phoenix Career Institute® will conduct this research annually to provide insights on current workforce trends and to help identify solutions to support and enhance American careers and create equity in the workplace. For the second annual study, more than 5,000 U.S. adults were surveyed about how they feel about their careers at this moment in time, including their concerns, their challenges, and the degree to which they are optimistic about core aspects of their careers and their future. The study was conducted among a diverse, nationally representative, sample of U.S. adults among a robust sample to allow for gender, generational, racial, and socioeconomic differences and includes additional analysis of workers in the top twenty media markets across the country to uncover geographic nuances. This year, the study also explored insights from 500 U.S. employers who are influential or play a critical role in hiring and workplace decisions within a range of departments, company sizes and industries to provide comparison between the workforce and those who hire, train and retain them.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit