College of Education and Allied Professions

Dr. April Perry

Dr. April Perry


Assistant Professor and Program Director
Higher Education Student Affairs
Department of Human Services

Phone: 828.227.3283
Address: McKee G22

Doctor of Philosophy: Higher Education-Student Development, University of Canterbury , New Zealand
Dissertation: Treading through swampy water: Graduates' experiences of the post-university transition.
Honors: UC International Doctoral Research Fellow; Postgraduate Research Showcase Winner

Masters of Education: Adult Education-Training and Development, University of Central Oklahoma , USA
Thesis: Breaking up with college: Senior year experience
Honors: MEd with Honors; College of Education Graduate Student of the Year; Adult Education Graduate Student of the Year

Bachelor of Arts: Communication-Broadcasting, University of Central Oklahoma , USA
Practical Thesis: Entertainment news program for local network Channel 22
Honors: Student Leader of the Year; Governor George Nigh Scholar


Dr. April Perry is the Program Director & Assistant 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, and Academic Tutoring Services. 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 Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring, and in 2017, she was named Outstanding Professional in Graduate and Professional Student Services, an award presented by the AGAPSS Knowledge Community of NASPA.

April also serves on two Editorial Boards for the Journal of The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition and NASPA Journal About Women in Higher Education.

Learn more about April on her website HERE!

In the HESA Graduate Program at WCU, April has taught/teaches the following courses:

  • Introduction to Higher Ed Student Affairs - HESA 605
  • History of Higher Education - HESA 615
  • Theories of College Student Development - HESA 621
  • Special Topics: Becoming a Practitioner-Scholar – HESA 693
  • Special Topics: Global Perspectives in Higher Education (Study Abroad)
  • Internship I, II, III - HESA 683, 684, 685
  • Seminar/Capstone in Higher Education Student Affairs – HESA 695

Teaching Philosophy and Approach:

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.

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.

Research Interests:

  • Student Development
  • Student Transitions
  • Career Development/Preparation
  • Career Transitions
  • Leadership Development
  • Student Involvement and Engagement
  • Institutional Strategies that promote student success
  • The Role of Higher Education in the 21 st Century
  • The Value of a Degree
  • Faculty Transitions
  • Faculty-Student Mentor Relationships

Research Projects Underway:

1.) In 2015, I conducted a follow-up study (qualitative interviews) with the original participants in my PhD research (5 years after original data was collected) in effort to explore graduates and their transition after college from a longitudinal perspective. (2 manuscripts published and 1 under review from the 2015 data). Another study/round of data collection is planned for 2020.
2.) Based on my interests in researching identity development and transitions, I am the PI (working with two colleagues) on a qualitative study informed by auto-ethnographic methodology about faculty transitions. (Data collection ongoing; 1 manuscript in press).

Methodological Alignment:

April identifies as a Qualitative Researcher and utilizes methods including, but not limited to:

  • Symbolic Interactionism
  • Naturalistic Inquiry
  • Narrativity/Narratology
  • Case Study
  • Ethnography (including auto-ethnography)
  • Phenomenology
  • Action Research


Perry, A., Dean, S., & Hilton, A. (in press, 2018). New faculty transitions and obstacles: An auto-ethnographic exploration. Journal of The Professoriate.

Perry, A., & Spencer, C. (2018). College didn't prepare me for this: The realities of the student debt crisis and the effect it is having on college graduates. The William and Mary Educational Review, 6(1), Article 1, 1-9.

McDonough, B., & Perry, A. (2018). Collecting to the core: Essential works to support college student development. Against the Grain, February Issue.

Perry, A., & Perry, L. (2017). Approaching the DSDM through a transformative learning lens. In M. Frederick, P. A. Sasso, & J. M. Maldonado (Eds.), The Dynamic Student Development Meta-Theory: A New Model for Student Success (pp. tbd). New York: Peter Lang.

Perry, L., & Perry, A. (2017). Facilitating student engagement research: An analogy for understanding and applying Naturalistic Inquiry. Journal of Research Initiatives, 3(1), Article 2, 1-11.

Zernechel, A., & Perry, A. (2017). The final battle: Constructs of hegemonic masculinity and hypermasculinity in fraternity membership. College Student Affairs Leadership, 4(1), Article 6, 1-9.

McClain, K., & Perry, A. (2017). Where did they go: Retention rates for students of color at predominantly White institutions. College Student Affairs Leadership, 4(1), Article 3, 1-10.

Covington, M., Chavis, T., & Perry, A. (2017). A scholar-practitioner perspective to promoting minority success in STEM. The Journal of Multicultural Education, 11(2), 149-159.

Spencer, C., & Perry, A. L. (2016). Helping students maximize their degree as a competitive tool: The value of experiential learning. The William and Mary Educational Review 4(1), 25-33.

Perry, A., & Perry, L. (2015). Final-year transition and service-learning: Working together as a vehicle for student engagement, development, and life preparedness. The International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement 3(1).

Perry, A. L. (2013). Outduction: Preparing to leave, graduation, and beyond. In M. Morgan (Ed.), Supporting Diversity in Higher Education: A practical guide (pp. 156-176). Oxon: Routledge.

Gardner, P., & Perry, A. (2012). Transitioning into the 21st century workplace: Will seniors be ready? In M. S. Hunter, J. R. Keup, J. Kinzie, & H. Maietta (Eds.), The Senior Year Experience: Culminating Experiences and Transitions(pp. 135-154). Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina, National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Gardner, P. D., & Perry, A. L. (2011). The role of cooperative and work-integrated education in graduate transition into the workplace. In R. K. Coll & K. E. Zegwaard (Eds.), International Handbook for Cooperative and Work-Integrated Education: International Perspectives of Theory, Research and Practice (pp. 313-320). Lowell, MA: World Association for Cooperative Education.

Perry, A. L. (2011). Outduction: Preparing to leave, graduation, and beyond. In M. Morgan (Ed.), Improving the Student Experience: A Practical Guide for Universities and Colleges (pp. 126-141). Oxon: Routledge.

Perry, A. (2010). The post-university transition. New Zealand Education Review: Postgrad and Research, 2010, 29.

Perry, A. (2009). Book Review: 20 something manifesto. New Zealand Journal of Adult Learning: Aotearoa, 37(2), December 2009.

Perry, A., & Perry, L. (2008). What is leadership at UCO? New Plains Review: Pathways to Leadership, 8(1).

Perry, L., & Perry, A. (2008). Leaders of tomorrow: A servant leadership organization. New Plains Review: Pathways to Leadership, 8(1).

Perry, L., & Perry, A. (2008). Italy leadership study tour: A transformational experience. New Plains Review: Pathways to Leadership, 8(1).

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