Jump In! Reap the Benefits of EdD

Casey Peterson shares how obtaining an EdD has propelled him into a career full of service and leadership.
Portrait of Casey Peterson
Casey Peterson. Photo by BYU Photo.

As the BYU Associate Dean of Students, 2016 EdLF graduate Casey Peterson oversees engagement and involvement opportunities of students throughout campus such as the International Student Services office, the Accessibility Center, the BYU student leadership office (BYUSA), and the Y-Serve office. His passion for service and leadership come from his time in the EdLF program.

When searching for a doctoral program, Peterson researched programs both on and off campus. Yet, the biggest factor for Peterson staying on campus was the connections he made with the faculty. Peterson’s first exposure to EdLF came from working with EdLF alumni and learning about their experience with the program. “I remember sitting down with Dr. Ferrin and having a wonderful discussion. We had a lot of commonalities and when I got accepted to the program, he was the one who notified me. He became my chair, guided me through that whole process, and still is one of my greatest mentors.” 

Another aspect of the program that Peterson really appreciated was the application, which focused more on character than academic performance and prowess, “They were looking for a depth of character that would bring in people that could do those things. And all of us are resilient and strong.” Peterson said he saw the quality of character among EdLF cohorts as they experienced life challenges that refined and tested them during the program. 

Peterson didn’t struggle alone; the EdLF community supported and helped each other through every challenge. “The help and support from the faculty coupled with help and support from the cohort itself was a combination which allowed people to push through those challenges,” said Peterson.

Vern Heperi, Assistant to the President for Student Success and Inclusion, Sarah Westerberg, Dean of Students, and Casey Peterson
Assistant to the President for Student Success and Inclusion, Vern Heperi, and the Dean of Students, Sarah Westerberg, pose with Casey Peterson after he graduated from the EdLF program. All are EdLF alumni. Picture courtesy of Casey Peterson.

Working so closely with the BYU student body can be exhausting for Casey and his team since they are constantly having to show students the full picture, “We oversee involvement in a lot of areas, informing students about the positive components of that is important, but it's also exhausting to overcome the misinformation that is out there, so having a past, current, and future view has been helpful,” said Peterson. He has seen that as students see the full picture, they are able to better understand why certain decisions are being made.

Student success has been one of the greatest joys Casey has experienced in his career. Casey said, “The highlights are the individual lives of the students that I've seen affected through involvements, student conduct changes, and receiving help.” Sometimes he doesn’t even learn about the effects he has had on students until later on, and those are much more valuable to him. “Five years down the road, I would much rather receive a thank-you letter from a student. Those are significantly more meaningful.” Casey said that seeing students succeed is much more meaningful than any award he could receive.

Casey credited the success he had in the program and in his career came to relationships he built with the faculty. “I would not have traded my chair and my committee for anything. Getting to know them and seeing how you fit with them and how they fit with you is very important.”

Writer: Cameron Hussein
Contributing Writer: Emma Smith
Contact: Cynthia Glad 801-422-1922