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McNeese Prepares Leaders Who Change Lives

January 25, 2021 | McNeese Public Relations
Retired U.S. Army Col. Dr. Cheryl Harris.

Dr. Cheryl A. Harris, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and a 1985 criminal justice graduate of McNeese State University, was commissioned from McNeese’s ROTC program and has had a successful 30-year career in military service. Harris, a DeRidder native, credited McNeese with providing her a solid education and a foundation to build the life she wanted.

“McNeese was truly the bedrock for both my career and education achievements,” she says. “The university was, and remains, affordable and close to home, but that did not take away from the development of us as young officers or lifelong learners.”

Harris’ background in criminal justice paved the way for her to oversee several intelligence and security matters for U.S. military operations across the globe. She also held the positions of Battalion and Brigade Commander and served a one-year tour in Iraq.

“My degree from McNeese truly prepared me for the challenges I would face from the collaboration with government at every level to the administrative work that is required to effectively lead a team,” explains Harris.  

She also went on to earn two master’s degrees in management and joint campaign planning and in strategy and management and to lead several planning and operation initiatives.

Harris retired from active duty in 2015 and brought her expertise to academia. She has trained the next generation of military and civilian leaders in management and strategy and in communication skills, and most recently, she served as an advocate for service members and their families using Veteran’s Affairs benefits at the University of Maryland Global Campus.

“I had an amazing career working with soldiers in various projects and at diverse stages of their careers,” she says. “I stayed true to the idea that one should never stop learning. Every challenge I faced was a learning opportunity and helped me move up to the next level.”

Harris completed her doctorate in strategic leadership last spring from Regent University and plans to continue bringing her experience to military personnel and civilians in the classroom.