Volunteer Spotlight
Sherry Reynolds-Whitaker Says “Doors Opened for Her” Because of NIU Education

By Eva Richards

reyanolds-whitakerReynolds-Whitaker is a self-proclaimed "lifelong" learner.

Sherry Reynolds-Whitaker, M.B.A. ’09, MS.Ed. ’13, Ed.D. ’16, was a non-traditional and first-generation student during her time at NIU. Now, as CFO and chief school business official, she knows what makes an inspiring learning environment and how to make the most of school resources. She is also happy to give back to her alma mater as a member of the NIUAA Board member, as well as by helping with college fair recruitment in St. Louis and with cap and gown events for graduation. Reynolds-Whitaker steps in and brings great energy to whatever she does.

NIUAA: Please tell us about your experience leading up to and choosing NIU.
Reynolds-Whitaker: I was looking for a credible program for my M.B.A. I knew that NIU was close to home so I contacted the Admissions Department. They were very helpful and guided me through the entire process. I was hooked on the kindness and customer service, so I stayed for several other programs.

NIUAA: In a few sentences, please share the impact NIU has had on your life.    Reynolds-Whitaker: NIU has been nothing but positivity to me and my life. I learned how to be present and that my opinions matter. I learned in both education programs that it’s okay to gain knowledge from others and that your points add value and could be helpful, too. The most important point to make is that I really discovered that I’m a life-long learner while attending NIU. I’m a first-generation college student who’s had the fortune to visit many places, and I truly believe most doors opened for me because I was very well prepared by NIU.

NIUAA: How did NIU prepare you for your current profession?     
Reynolds-Whitaker: I took the education route, and NIU prepared me fully for my current career. I was able to get my master’s degree as a school business official, my certification prep for the Chief School Business Official (CSBO) designation and an invaluable internship that set me apart from most others. 

NIUAA: What are you most proud of in your professional career?     
Reynolds-Whitaker: I’m most proud of the work I do in my school district. I get to make decisions daily that benefit kids in the K-12 education system, whether it’s bringing in the best nutritional programs, identifying upgrades or facilities needs for safety, or helping to secure funds for meaningful programs for all students.

NIUAA: Did anyone from NIU have a significant impact on you?     
Reynolds-Whitaker: I really was impressed with Dr. Gene Roth in the adult and higher education doctorate program. He was able to successfully teach that humor mattered, and that it should be used more often in education. I enjoyed all his classes. He and Dr. LaVerne Gyant were very knowledgeable, and they truly helped me finalize my dissertation requirements. I couldn’t have asked for better support during the five years in the program.

NIUAA: What would you want to tell current and prospective students about NIU?     
Reynolds-Whitaker: I would say look no further. NIU has the support and program you need to be very successful in your future career.

NIUAA: What do you enjoy most about volunteering?     
Reynolds-Whitaker: Simply put, I enjoy helping others. I especially like encouraging the youth to go to college or trade school to be prepared for the future. I am happy to brag about NIU, but if they can’t attend, I stress the importance of higher education or trade schools at any location.

If you are looking for other ways to be an NIU volunteer, please check out NIU Nexus, or contact Liz McKee at lmckee1@niu.edu or 815-753-7400.