Macomb Community College alumna Jill Gerloff is a wife, proud aunt, cancer survivor and self-proclaimed degree collector. After receiving an associate degree from Macomb in 1998, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University, and master’s degrees from Roosevelt and Kansas State universities. Most recently, she obtained a doctoral degree in education from Texas Christian University. But, Gerloff credits her time at Macomb as being an integral part of her success.
“If it wasn’t for Macomb Community College, I may not have become Dr. Gerloff,” she says. “They started me on the trajectory to who I am today!”
Gerloff began taking classes at Macomb as a senior in high school, and returned following a failed start at another institution. Right away, she noticed the welcoming faculty and staff. “I felt that it was a judgment free zone, and that they were accommodating to working adults.”
On the first day of one of her classes, Gerloff’s instructor shared a personal anecdote, revealing her early struggles in college and her gradual journey toward a Ph.D.
“She was honest and vulnerable with us about her experiences, in an effort to encourage us to pursue our goals despite setbacks,” relates Gerloff. “I had a similar story and followed her road less traveled and finally completed that doctorate in 2018.”
Now employed in higher education for 12 years, Gerloff has served in roles that involve “teaching, curriculum development, and advising and mentoring students at a variety of institutions.” She now works as a student services analyst for Phoenix College in Phoenix, Arizona. There, she assists students with putting together their course schedule, “goal setting, and preparing for the next steps, whether that is graduation or transfer to a four-year institution.”
During her transition to Wayne State, Gerloff says that “there were many checklist items I did not know I needed to do.” As a result, she ended up going solo in the process, not knowing “how to ask for help, or that there were offices available to assist me.” In spite of these initial hiccups, Gerloff really valued the ease with which she was able to transfer her credits.
“One barrier to student success at a four-year institution is having to retake courses, which do not transfer equally or do not count toward degree progress,” says Gerloff. However, through articulation agreements with many schools statewide, “Macomb made it relatively seamless.” She also appreciated the convenience of being able to take classes at the University Center, close to home and work.
Gerloff’s experiences at Macomb, as well as the difficulties she encountered, equipped her with the tools she needed to thrive in her current position. She encourages all new students to “take advantage of all of the opportunities on campus,” whether that means networking with students and faculty, or getting involved in activities and clubs. “Become an integral part of the Macomb community!” Equally important, she recommends students speak with an advisor.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed,” says Gerloff. “The educational journey is a team effort!”