“I just love what I do. I love to find a young person and say ‘What are you doing? What school do you go to?’ And talk them into going to the school that I’m working at, or talk them into just going to school. To me, it’s just getting them to the next place,” Cherise Peters said to over 25 members of JSU faculty and students Friday at Houston Cole Library.
Peters participated in an open forum as part of her candidacy for vice president of enrollment management. She spoke about her love for students and her plans to get them enrolled at the university.
Peters is currently vice president of enrollment management at Miles College in Fairfield, Ala., where she is responsible for enrollment and retention, admissions, housing and marketing.
She has over 30 years of experience in higher education, and for 25 of those years, she has worked in enrollment positions. In addition to Miles College, Peters has worked at Alabama State University and Georgia State University.
During the forum, she spoke about her childhood in upstate New York. Peters and her five siblings attended the local elementary, middle and high schools. Her parents insisted that they be a part of the environment and make a meaningful impact in it.
“It doesn’t matter what day you are born or what day you die, it’s the dash in between,” she said, referring to the time between one’s life and death. “So what are you doing to impact those around you in a positive way?”
For Peters, that positive impact is getting students enrolled and engaged in college. She said the most important way to retain students is making them feel like they are part of the institution.
The biggest reason that students stay in college is the faculty engagement. At JSU, she said, students already receive this benefit. Enrollment is small enough that a student can feel like they matter as an individual to the university.
Peters said that every school’s model is different, “but the core philosophy is the same: it’s about finding the right students, putting the right butts in the right seats, and making sure they have the ability to stay.”
She spoke to members of the forum from the marketing department and graduate studies program, and said that student engagement is important in each aspect of the university. Peters said personalizing the experience for all students, from incoming freshman to those in graduate studies, is the best way to increase and retain enrollment.