Michelle Rothmeyer, M.S.Ed. '10, Ed.D. '20, Credits NIU With Positive Impact On Career
By Tony Scott

Michelle Rothmeyer
MIchelle Rothmeyer, M.S.Ed. '10, Ed.D. '20, serves as vice president of student
services at Kishwaukee College.

Vice President of Student Services at Kishwaukee College Michelle Rothmeyer, M.S.Ed. ’10, Ed.D. ’20, credits NIU with impacting her life and career in significant ways.

“Completing my doctorate and obtaining my current position is what I am most proud of besides raising my family and marrying my husband,” she said. “I would not have been able to do either of them without the opportunity to attend and receive my master's degree from NIU. I am a life-long learner, NIU offered me the opportunity to learn more about my field of community college in higher education for two degrees. As a first-generation adult learner, being where I am today is heartwarming. My current position is rewarding and offers me the opportunity do what I enjoy and to help people every day. To NIU, I say thank you.”

Rothmeyer had just started an academic advising position at Rock Valley College in 2008 when she decided to attend NIU for her master’s degree. NIU offered evening courses and was close to her home. In 2017, she accepted the role of vice president of student services at Kishwaukee College and with encouragement of the college's president, she decided to continue her education at NIU and pursue her doctorate.

“The doctoral program helped me to learn more about higher education and apply it to real life situations,” she said. “For each course I took, I chose subject matter that helped me learn more about the topics in my division. For example, I am the Title IX Coordinator, so I did research on how Title IX got started and where it is today. My dissertation focused on the importance of a student success course in the first semester of college. Researching and writing about student success helped me to improve our current course and allowed me the opportunity to learn more about what constitutes student success.”

Rothmeyer said two faculty members were influential in her success.

“Without Xiaodan Hu, my dissertation chair for my doctorate, I would not have finished,” Rothmeyer said. “She reminded me to keep trying when I wanted to quit, she helped me when I asked for help, and it is because of her contributions that I graduated. I also completed my degree because of Carrie Kortegast, who was instrumental in helping me with my writing. They both taught me that anything is possible if you work hard for it, and working hard is what I did.”

Rothmeyer also formed lasting friendships with those who attended classes with her.

“My colleague and I went through the program together,” she said. “The program allowed us time to connect outside of work and form a long lasting positive relationship. We shared many projects together which really helped build our relationship. We have a Facebook group from our cohort and to this day still update each other when milestones happen in our lives. It is really good to see fellow cohort members obtain new positions within higher education after completing their doctorate as well.”

For Rothmeyer, working in student services for her entire career has given her the opportunity to help students navigate through and be successful in college.

"From admissions to advising to helping solve problems, the time spent has been rewarding," she said. "The best part of working in student services is watching the students complete their goals, whether earning a certificate or degree. Seeing them walk across the stage during commencement is very rewarding. I share with my team often, we know how to navigate college, these students need us to share how they can get there as this is their first time going through the process."

For those going through doctoral programs and working to earn degrees at NIU, she recommends choosing a program that they are interested in and reaching out to their advisor or program chair if they are struggling.

“Do not be afraid to get some tutoring if needed and use the writing center to review your papers before you turn them in,” she said. “Enjoy the learning while you are in the classes, time flies by so fast that before you know it, you will be done. Enjoy the ride.”