Article Written by Emma Bast. Photo Credits Lindsey Kiffmeyer.

Maria Wright might now have two offices, but her dedication to student success remains a top priority. 

Wright was recently named Executive Director of Undergraduate Recruitment and Access at St. Cloud State University. Under this new title, she will work with both Dual Enrollment and Admissions.  

“I think the combination of these roles is really exciting, for me too, of making sure that we know that our dual enrollment students are supported in their goals whether that is coming to St. Cloud State or not,” Wright said. 

Her goal is to smooth the transition of new traditional and nontraditional students. She will be working with admissions as well as Dual Enrollment to meet students, regardless of how they may enter, where they stand.  

“These two teams work really closely together,” Wright said. 

Under her new role, Wright will be connecting those students already participating in Dual Enrollment who wish to stay at St. Cloud State with admissions teams who will be able to assist in transitioning from attending college as a high school student to attending college as a college student. This would allow dual enrollment students to have undergraduate support built into the support that they receive while participating in Dual Enrollment. In the past few years, the students in this program have grown. 

“In the last couple of years, we have really been able to elevate and build up programming for Dual Enrollment,” Wright said. “Over 400 students of our student population are PSEO students.” 

As part of the “It’s Time” framework, St. Cloud State will be expanding its reach, that includes PSEO and dual enrollment students.  The goal of Wright’s new role is to expand on the access of PSEO students to the reach of the University’s resources. 

“I am in meetings all day, back-to-back, so our teams can actually be doing the work,” Wright said. 

At the university level, rates of nontraditional students are rising. Some students already have degrees or experience, while some are getting college classes earlier than undergraduates. 

Wright herself had a nontraditional way of getting to her degree path. She uses her experiences to get to know the student’s goals and how she can help them achieve their goals. 

She thought that she wanted to be a dentist, so she pursued a degree in genetics, thinking that she would love it. 

“My senior year of college, I went on a mission trip to Panama. It was a pre-dentistry mission trip where we got to tag along with dentists offering public dental clinics… and while that was fascinating and great, I didn’t enjoy it,” Wright said. 

She discovered that she did not enjoy the path she had started, but she liked the helping aspect of her trip. So, she went back to school for a master’s in business administration. She then moved into the health industry, working on the administration side; however,this still wasn’t the path for her.

While pursuing her master’s degree, she was working in the administration side of a university. After she moved out of the health industry, she returned to the administration side of university life. She started working at Troy University as a Registrar.  

“An opportunity from St. Cloud State opened up … When I first started the first job I started here, I was like, I don’t know why I am still trying to work somewhere else when I keep coming back to higher education because this is where I am happy,” Wright said. 

Now she is pursuing a doctoral degree here at St. Cloud State in education. 

“I love my job, I love coming to work every day,” Wright said. 

Wright can use her unusual educational and career history to aid the students in their paths. Now, those past experiences can be used to ease transitions for nontraditional students as they enter St. Cloud State whether that is as a dual enrollment student or as a returning student. 


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