Elizabeth City, N.C. – The yearlong pursuit of becoming a college board-certified enrollment leader has come full circle for Elizabeth City State University's director of admissions, Arlinda Halfacre. 

Halfacre joined approximately 30 higher education leaders from across the country in the Enrollment Leadership Academy (ELA) last July, with the goal of advancing enrollment management and better serving ECSU. 

“Many were nominated, and from those nominations, few are chosen. I was a part of the selected few,” Halfacre said. 

The ELA is a yearlong program focused on leadership skills, strategic enrollment management, and developing the next generation of enrollment leaders. The cohort consisted of personnel from various positions in higher education, including admissions, financial aid, enrollment management, and other experienced education professionals. After multiple sessions that provided pertinent information to equip higher education leaders, Halfacre says she felt "relieved." 

Halfacre received her nomination to join this most recent cohort of the ELA from ECSU Provost Farrah Ward July 2023, knowing there would be some challenges but not fully aware of everything it would entail. 

The academy consisted of a series of webinars, virtual meetings, in-person meetings, and discussion boards throughout the year facilitated by experienced education professionals. Topics covered included leadership and management, strategic enrollment planning with data-driven practices, and assessments on retention. 

Halfacre's initial excitement met reality when she realized the academy's rigor, but she was up for the challenge, nailing her final capstone project. 

"Since it was a group project, it made me nervous. If it's me by myself, I can know what I have to do and get it done,” she said. “But when you're depending on others, it's scary, but everything very went well." 

The group project utilized all the skills learned and participants were able to apply this knowledge for a real-world scenario. The group’s task was to study a university assigned to them, assess the university's main issue, and come up with solutions to how to grow that university. 

The travel required for the academy included two to three-day sessions in Atlanta at Morehouse College in September, a national forum of all affiliates in New York in November, Rice University in Texas in February, and ended in May at Tulane University in 

New Orleans. When asked about the workload an intense cohort can bring, Halfacre said what kept her going was her "why." 

"I do what I do because I'm a first-generation college student. My grandmother raised me and she didn't know anything about college or what you had to do to get in. She was just like, 'You just go over there to that school, and you ask those people if you can go there,' and I did exactly what she said." 

Halfacre expressed that for many potential students, all they bring to the table is a desire. These students don't have much knowledge of the enrollment process, financial aid, and other information necessary to become a college student. 

"I want to teach that mom or that grandmother how to help their child. Academy just takes all those resources and puts them in one leadership skills and strategic enrollment program," said Halfacre. 

Despite the laborious load, make no mistake about it, Halfacre's work in the Office of Admissions and Recruitment never stopped. Among the workload, travel, and completed homework assignments expected at each in-person meeting, Halfacre still managed to drive home her main goal – successfully increasing enrollment at ECSU for five consecutive years. 

This is not Halfacre's first rodeo around accomplishments and she is no stranger to high performance. For 10 years, she served in the U.S. Army, then began her career as a temporary employee in the registrar’s office in October 2013, and became a full-time employee in January 2014. She served as the interim director of ECSU's admission and recruitment office in July 2021 and assumed the permanent position in July 2022. She is also president of the ECSU National Alumni Association (NAA), Inc. Elizabeth City Area ECSU Alumni Chapter and serves as the NAA, Inc. chaplain. 

For Halfacre, being a part of the Enrollment Leadership Academy put the necessary, formal education behind what has already been in her heart—student recruitment, retention, and achievement. 

"There were people in place who helped me, and I said if I ever come back this way to Elizabeth City, I want to be in a place to help others,” she said. 

"Academy was important to me because it's more on the road to me learning more, getting more resources and information, and networking. After all, the Office of Admissions and Recruitment is the front door."