<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=341153139571737&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Member of the Month

Melissa DeBlois


Director of Prior Learning Assessment for the Vermont State Colleges System, a program administered by the Community College of Vermont


What is your favorite part about being a member of CAEL?

With so many “offices of one” in the PLA/CPL world, I rely on CAEL to provide regular trainings, share information, and foster networking opportunities so I can stay laser focused on serving local students while CAEL monitors and shares innovation in the field. 

In its 50-year history, what would you say is CAEL’s biggest accomplishment?

There are two clear CAEL accomplishments that stand above the others in my opinion:

    1. Creating the CAEL Standards to guide the work over the past 50-years

    2. Supporting the research of Becky Klein-Collins and her team – the PLA Boost, and PLA is Your Business and Fueling the Race studies were game-changers in the credit for prior learning space. How They Pay is the most recent example. 

What is CAEL’s most important contribution to the working adult learner space?

I believe that CAEL has played a pivotal role in normalizing the working adult learner experience. The Earn College Credit for What You Already Know video shared in conjunction with the PLA Accelerator and Credit Predictor was posted on college websites across the nation allowing adult learners to see themselves reflected in college marketing materials for the first time. That was an empowering moment and one that provided a model for college marketing departments to embrace, given the strong response.   

What would you consider to be the biggest change in higher education?

For institutions like the Community College of Vermont that have been closely connected to CAEL over the past 50 years, we have gone from outliers to national models. The idea of being student-centered and accessible to allow for our adult learners to find success, has resonated with dual enrollment students and traditional aged students who need to work or care for family members while attending college, putting those early outliers in a position to weather the storm of declining enrollment ahead.   

What has changed for your institution in the past 50 years?

The Community College of Vermont was an early adopter of online learning back in the late 1990’s – again, as a way to make college accessible for our students in all pockets of our state – and that positioned us well for pandemic-era changes when we shifted to fully online offerings within one week in March 2020. Now, nearly 80% of our enrollment is in online courses. 

What do you love most about your work?

I love being a part of the journey for our students, from their first inquiry to a credit award, I get to experience the confidence and momentum that come from a student getting college credit for what they already know. Every day I am reminded of the powerful life-changing resource that PLA/CPL can be. I take pride in our students that navigate an unfamiliar process and come out with 3, 12, 30 or more credits that put them on a solid path to their goals and to changes the trajectory for them and their family. 

“I rely on CAEL to provide regular trainings, share information, and foster networking opportunities so I can stay laser focused on serving local students while CAEL monitors and shares innovation in the field. ”
2021 Melissa DeBlois Profile Pic
Melissa DeBlois

Director of Prior Learning Assessment


Who (or what) inspires you?

I am inspired every day by our students. So many overcome adversity to reach their goals – goals often postponed for years or decades by unforeseeable obstacles. 

What is something new you recently learned (work-related or not)?

I recently learned a new technique for making pie dough. I was always intimidated by pie dough before, but this combination of a few pulses of ingredients in the food processor, followed by forming the crumbs into dough using a kitchen towel is foolproof. Now I’ll never go back to frozen or roll out crusts. 

When you aren’t working, what do you enjoy doing?

I am an avid baker, vegetable gardener, hiker, and I play trumpet in our local City Band. We play free weekly summer concerts on the town green where we sight-read a dozen songs for an audience of community members and tourists.  

If you could assign everyone in the world one book to read, what would it be?

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.  
A practical accessible book to answer questions and guide conversations around race. 

What are you listening to or watching? Any recommendations for podcasts, music, movies, or shows?

Vermont Public Classical is my go-to station for stress-reducing listening. I learn something new every time I listen.  

What is your biggest hope for CAEL in the future?

I hope that CAEL is able to help get colleges and universities on the same page with consistent credit awards for national credentials and trainings. A small group of early CAEL members has collaborated on these efforts, but we haven’t been able to expand beyond our initial members. I think this is a role that CAEL could play. 

What would you love to help other CAEL members with?

A group of PLA/CPL practitioners gather monthly for free professional development through the Prior Learning Assessment Network (PLAN). We’re now in our sixth year and have over 200 members on our distribution list, with ~25 attending each 3rd Thursday. E-mail me if you are interested in joining the informal group.

Where could CAEL members help you?

I love hearing new ideas from PLA/CPL practitioners. Keep sharing what you’re doing! It’s helpful to hear from programs at every stage – those who’ve been at it 50 years, those who just got started in the past 10-15 years, and those just rolling out credit for prior learning in the past year or two. Hearing from others helps me strategize and streamline new initiatives. 

How can members connect with you? 

Email: melissa.deblois@ccv.edu

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/melissadeblois

           LinkedIn PLAN Group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/14343723/