Grambling State’s Cheri Hodges stays on track to earn doctorate in Developmental Education

by T. Scott Boatright | Office of Communications

Cheri Hodges was a sprinter during her undergraduate years as a student-athlete at Norfolk State University. But Hodges’ journey to earning her Doctor of Education in Developmental Education from Grambling State University was more of a marathon, beginning in 2012 while she was serving as an assistant track and field coach at GSU.

Hodges crossed the finish line on Wednesday morning as she walked across the stage at the Frederick C. Hobdy Assembly Center and GSU President Rick Gallot conferred her with a doctoral degree.

Her journey was long, and not always easy.

“I was working, and there were some semesters where I took breaks and was not enrolled,” Hodges said. “I’ve moved to three different states over the years and had a child since starting the program and have been through three advisors over that time. My main one, Vernon Foster, died two or three years ago, and that was a big loss and a lot to take on. He was a great man and a great support system throughout my journey. When that happened, Dr. Cheryl Ensley jumped on board and got me to the finish line.”

Hodges, who had earned a Master’s degree in Sports Administration while working at GSU, then became Athletics Compliance Director for Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina before moving on to Howard, where she was most recently the assistant director for student support services for compliance and academics.

Since 2018 Hodges has served as the director of compliance at East Carolina University. Her primary responsibilities at ECU include oversight of Bylaw 11 – Personnel, Bylaw 13 – Recruiting, and Bylaw 17 – Playing and Practice Seasons. She works with all 18 sports, oversees student-athlete promotional activities, assists with rules education efforts, and monitors all on/off-campus recruiting activities.

Hodges also currently serves as a member of the National Association for Athletics Compliance (NAAC) and ECU ACE (Academics, Compliance, & Eligibility) Team.

Balancing work, studying and motherhood has been another big challenge for Hodges.

“Navigating through life as a mother with a young child (her daughter is now 6 years old) and working full time while being a full-time student is not easy,” Hodges said. “I had to be organized and keep in touch with my professors daily. I met with them on Zoom calls once or twice a week just to go over the material to make sure I stayed ahead in this course because I had to make sure I continued and didn’t slow down. It was challenging, but the outcome has been great.”

As a former student-athlete, Hodges is used to setting a new goal after reaching an old one.

“I started in athletics, so at one point in my journey I wanted to become an athletics director,” Hodges said. “Then I wanted to become a Senior Women’s Administrator for Athletics. Then as I started working with professors trying to bridge that gap between academia and athletics, I started to look at other roles. I would really love to continue doing booth in some fashion because I love both the athletic and academic side of university administration. But in the end, and I know that I still have a lot of work to put in before that could ever happen, becoming a Division I provost is now my ultimate goal.”

And based on her track record, that’s one more finish line Hodges could likely cross one day.