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Spotlight on Graduate Dr. Twyla Casey Wells


Dr. Pamela Earp, Dr. Susan Smith Braithwaite, Dr. Colleen Allsburg Wiessner, Dr. Twyla Casey Wells.
Dr. Pamela Earp, Dr. Susan Smith Braithwaite, Dr. Colleen Allsburg Wiessner and Dr. Twyla Casey Wells.

In December, we recognize and congratulate our students who will receive their degrees during fall commencement.

To celebrate their achievements, we’ll feature some of our outstanding students and share their postgraduation plans throughout the month.

Dr. Twyla Casey Wells is a December doctoral graduate who studied adult and community college education in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy and Human Development.  

Wells has also received her Master of Education from NC State University in adult and continuing professional education.

When did you begin your studies at NC State? I began my studies at NC State in August 2003 as a single mother of 16-month-old twins. At the time, I was working at Johnston Community College as the public information officer/grants director. Overly confident, I enrolled in two classes that first semester – adult learning with the late Dr. Colleen Wiessner and leadership in higher education with retired faculty member Dr. Leila Gonzales Sullivan. I obtained my master’s in adult and continuing professional education in May 2007.

I then began my doctoral studies in the fall of 2007. I defended my study, The Ties that Bind: Understanding the “Relationships” in Community College Alumni Relations, on July 1 of this year.

What has been your best memory during your time here? There is not a particular memory, or even a collection of memories for me. What has been most important to me is the tremendous support I have been afforded through some very challenging times in my life while also working on my studies at NC State.

Since March 2008, I have lost my 7-year-old daughter Caroline, both of my parents, my maternal grandmother and two other very important family members. Throughout these challenges, the faculty and staff have offered tremendous support.

What do you plan to do after graduation? I am presently working on proposals to secure private funding so that I am able to conduct research on the engagement model, the Community College Student to Alumni Relationship Lifecycle, I developed during my doctoral studies.

My goal is to secure funding to pilot the study at three community colleges within North Carolina. Once the pilot is completed, I would hope to implement the model statewide, and then eventually nationally.

How do you think CED has prepared you for a career after graduation? Being an adult student, I was already fairly well established in my career in college advancement work prior to embarking on my studies. However, I was still fairly new to the community college setting when I embarked on my studies at NC State.

My studies here afforded me a much greater understanding of the unique dynamics associated with adult learners. Additionally, I have gained a more in-depth knowledge of community colleges. Beyond the actual academic knowledge obtained, I feel I gained such a greater sense of confidence through my studies at NC State.