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#WhyIChoseEducation: ‘I Am Motivated Daily by the Opportunity To Have An Impact. Everything is About Impacting and Inspiring People To Be the Best Version of Themselves, Whatever That Is,’ Says Peter Eley ’08MED, ’11PHD

Peter Eley

This is part of a monthly “Why I Chose Education” series in which NC State College of Education alumni, students, faculty and staff share why they chose education. 

When Peter Eley ’08MED, ’11PHD was in the ninth grade, he participated in NC State’s Upward Bound program. That experience solidified his love for NC State. Unfortunately, when Eley was applying for undergraduate programs, he wasn’t accepted to NC State. But that love never left.

“I bleed NC State. That program provided me with so much exposure and so many experiences on the NC State campus,” he said. “Therefore, when I was choosing graduate schools, NC State was an easy choice for me.” 

While working at St. Augustine’s University as a webmaster and data manager, Eley was inspired to pursue a career in education. With an interest in mathematics education, he was encouraged to attend the NC State College of Education and work under the guidance of Lee V. Stiff, Ph.D. Eley earned a Master of Education in mathematics education and a Ph.D. in what is now the Learning and Teaching in STEM mathematics and statistics education program area of study

“I was not inspired to be a teacher. For me, it was a progression because I love helping people. I have learned to help better; I needed to understand how they learned and experienced things,” Eley said. “I came into math education later in my career. I was ignorant to the field and was introduced to it by my supervisor while working at St. Augustine’s.”

After working as a middle and high school math teacher for several years, Eley moved into higher education. He now serves as a professor of mathematics education and interim department chair for the Department of Health, Physical and Secondary Education at Fayetteville State University (FSU), where he has been on faculty for 11 years. 

“I am motivated daily by the opportunity to have an impact. Everything is about impacting and inspiring people to be the best version of themselves, whatever that is,” he said.

When Eley isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his wife of 19 years, Felicia, and their two children, Madison and Preston. He serves as pastor of Safehouse Church in Greensboro and chair of the Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) Foundation, which allows him to “give back to society in a way that isn’t measured in dollars and cents.”

Eley is also an avid kayak fisherman, and is actively involved in three kayak bass fishing clubs across the state. And he has a passion for motivational speaking. He shares why he chose the NC State College of Education, how education has shaped him, what others should know about the College of Education and an event that has inspired him recently.

Why I Chose the NC State College of Education: Lee V. Stiff, Ph.D. When I decided to come to the College of Education, I was working down the street at St. Augustine’s University. My supervisor, Dr. Yvonne Umphrey, at the time worked and graduated under the advisement of Dr. Stiff. She told me he would be good for me as a mentor and math educator. She was right!

How Education Has Shaped Me: Education, for me, has been everything. As I learned, I evolved into a better me. I am a professional student and I am always being educated by everybody and from everywhere.

An NC State College of Education Experience That Impacted Me: I experienced going to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) conference with Dr. Stiff in 2007 for the first time. It impacted my career tremendously because I met so many people through him. I have since been able to develop these introductions into partnerships and lifelong friendships.

What Others Should Know About the NC State College of Education: The faculty is top-notch, well-written and well known throughout the math education community. I feel a sense of pride when I go to conferences and talk with others, and they ask where I was trained, and I say NC State. I feel that we underestimate the quality of faculty in the College of Education. If you really take the time to look at who is having impact, you will find that those people work at NC State University.

The Last Thing I Experienced That Inspired Me: I recently experienced the passing of a young lady that we mentored and supported. She was only 32 years old and died of cancer. I am inspired by the impact she had. The life she lived reminded me that it’s not about how much time you have but what you do with the time you have. She was a high school counselor, mentor, pageant coordinator, daughter, sorority sister and friend. As she took her last breath, she was literally helping somebody else. The impact of a life well lived as over 2,000 people attended her funeral to pay respects because of the impact she had on them individually.