Former graduate student reflects on time at university

Student Highlight: Dr. Cathy Cherrstrom shares insight in Adult Education

Written by: Justin Ikpo (cehdcomm@tamu.edu)
Post date: September 15, 2015

Dr. Cathy Cherrstrom is living out the dream that she made for herself. She recently earned her PhD in Educational Human Resource Development with a specialization in adult education at Texas A&M University.

Cherrstrom is a retired banker who worked for Bank of America for over 25 years. When her company experienced reorganization five years ago, she decided to return to school. Upon choosing a field of study, she was drawn toward adult education because of the different avenues it covered.

“I was very interested in teaching,” Cherrstrom said. “When I heard about adult education, I got excited because I love working with adults who want to learn.” 

As she worked to complete her degree, Cherrstrom discovered that many of the skills she picked up in the banking world could be applied directly to her new field of study.  Many of which involved group learning. 

“I realized that I had been an adult educator for many years. I taught banking school and was a trainer,” she said. “Even within my own teams, we always did a lot of learning and teaching each other.”

In picking a university to attend, Cherrstrom credits the professional relationship between professors and students she witnessed at Texas A&M.

“What really meant a lot to me was going to a professional conference in my field as a master’s student and seeing professors from Texas A&M with students presenting, co-presenting, [being] involved. All of that really impressed me.”

Her own professors helped her find ways to cultivate and expand her passion in adult education through similar relationships. Cherrstrom worked under Dr. Mary Alfred, executive associate dean and professor in higher education administration, as a graduate student and primarily managed the adult learning academic journal. 

“Through that work, I learned a lot about academic writing, manuscripts, editing and about what makes for quality research,” she said. “A lot of that one-on-one time allowed me to apply what I was learning into my course work.”

Now a tenure-track assistant professor at Texas State University, Cherrstrom is excited to be teaching, doing research and continuing some of the work she began at the college.

“It’s been a really great four and a half years and in many ways has gone very quickly,” remarked Cherrstrom. “I want to say thank you to everyone here at Texas A&M. Especially to the college and the department because they are the back bone of my experience here.”