Dr. April Perry is the Program Director & Associate Professor in the M.Ed. Higher Education Student Affairs program at Western Carolina University. Before moving to North Carolina, she completed her PhD at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which her research emphasis was in Higher Education Student Development, Career Development, and Student Transitions. As a practitioner, April has worked in Leadership Programs, Parent & Family Programs, Fundraising & Marketing, Academic Tutoring Services, and Graduate Student Administration. She is passionate about student development in the college years and lives by the motto that 'the only thing better than watching someone grow is helping them grow.' In 2016, April received the WCU Graduate School’s <i>Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring. </i>In 2017, she was named <i>Outstanding Professional in Graduate and Professional Student Services</i><i>, </i>an award presented by the AGAPSS Knowledge Community of NASPA. In 2020, she was selected for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Blue Ridge Stand Out (14 under 40).
<b>Teaching Philosophy and Approach:</b><br>I live by the motto that the only thing better than watching someone grow is helping them grow. This motto reflects my teaching philosophy, and what I believe to be my role as an educator. While the mission of educational institutions is to educate the next generation of citizenry to be the critical conscience of society, I believe it is essential for educators to also prepare students for their futures by equipping them with professional, practical, and personal transferable skills. I also believe that educators have a role in helping students gain a realistic perspective of their employment opportunities, which must start early in a student’s academic pursuits. By helping students better manage their expectations of life-after-college and equipping them with skills to be lifelong learners, they will become more critically engaged in their local communities and the global society. Teaching, training, and facilitating learning environments allow me to fulfill what I believe to be fundamental responsibilities of any educator. Those responsibilities are based on providing learners with an educative and challenging environment where curiosity is awakened, intrinsic motivation and active/collaborative learning (the co-construction of meaning) are evident, and the greater connection comes from critical analysis and reflection on both the students’ personal experiences and the course content.<br>As a learning community (like the HESA program), knowledge acquisition and the co-creation of meaning heavily relies on each person’s attendance and engagement in the course work and discussion. I do not view myself as the “knower” of information who lectures as a “sage on a stage.” Rather, I take on the role of a facilitator, a “guide on the side” that encourages students to pull from their own and others’ lived experience to interpret course materials and co-create meaning. This complements my personal teaching philosophy as well as the HESA Program mission, goals, and outcomes.<br><br>
<b>Research Interests:</b><br>Student Development<br>Student Transitions<br>Career Development/Preparation<br>Career Transitions<br>Leadership Development<br>Student Involvement and Engagement<br>Institutional Strategies that promote student success<br>The Role of Higher Education in the 21 <sup>st</sup> Century<br>The Value of a DegreeFaculty Transitions<br>Faculty-Student Mentor Relationships<br><br><b>Methodological Alignment:</b><br>April identifies as a Qualitative Researcher and utilizes methods including, but not limited to:<br>Symbolic Interactionism<br>Naturalistic Inquiry<br>Narrativity/Narratology<br>Case Study<br>Ethnography (including auto-ethnography)<br>Phenomenology<br>Action Research<br><br>For a list of publications, presentations, and other scholarly activities, view Dr. April Perry's CV at: https://aprilperry.weebly.com/cvwork-history.html