UMUC’s Cheryl Harris Built Her Career on Service and Lifelong Learning

After Advancing Her Education in the Military, the Associate VP of Military Enrollment Operations Now Helps Others Do the Same

Editor’s note: This profile is part of a series that will run throughout May in celebration of National Military Appreciation Month.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Cheryl A. Harris understands the value of education. Having spent 30 years on active duty, she’s earned three degrees of her own and now helps military and veteran students expand their horizons and advance their careers through higher education.

During the Iraq War, Harris commanded the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion and 470th Military Intelligence Brigade. Along the way, she earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from McNeese State University, a master’s in management from Troy State University and a master’s in strategic campaign planning and strategy from the Joint Forces Staff College. In addition, she became a certified personal and executive coach through the College of Executive Coaching. And, she did it all while rising to the rank of colonel.

For anyone considering going back to school, Harris has this advice: “Look at the bigger picture. What could be the outcome if you do this? You could get a better job. You could move up in your current job. You’ll be better informed, and you can continue to learn.”

Today, Harris doesn’t just talk about the benefits of a college education. As associate vice president of Military Enrollment Operations at University of Maryland University College, Harris oversees a team of military education coordinators who provide one-on-one assistance to military-affiliated students, helping them navigate military benefits, tuition assistance and federal financial aid, as well as the challenges of balancing work, family and education.

“We work with them on a very personal level,” Harris said. “We take them from application to graduation.”

Harris continues to serve as an advocate for those who wear the uniform, those who have served in the past, and their family members.