By Lindsay Doty
Whoever said fast food work is a just a dead-end job hasn’t met Kerri Cromer. The Danville native has spent 31 years working at the golden arches. In that time, she quickly climbed up to management, put herself through college, put her three children through college, paid the bills and learned a lot about people.
At 46, she’s pursuing another dream: earning her master’s degree.
“People used to make fun of me. You know, you’re slinging burgers and working the fryer,” Cromer remembers. “Now I say to heck with the naysayers.”
Cromer is a McDonald’s area supervisor and recently earned her bachelor’s degree online at Western Governors University Indiana. This summer, she’s starting classes to earn her master’s and hopes to build a career in human resources.
“I would like to be an HR partner with McDonald’s,” she said.
Her fast food journey started more than three decades ago at the McDonald’s on 10th street in Danville. Then, a baby-faced teenager, she took the job at the fryer so she could buy some stylish clothes.
“My mom said if you want those fancy clothes, go get a job,” remembers Cromer.
So she did. There, she learned to work hard and became the youngest shift manager and general manager at the location. Through the decades, she has overseen a lot, including a lifetime of burgers and fries.
“Holy Cow, I can’t imagine how many,” she said
She’s also taken home a few Happy Meal prizes along the way. There are two large plastic bags at home filled with Beanie Babies (remember those?).
While Cromer admits she started out as an “anti-people” person, that has changed. As a manager, she thrives on helping others take their jobs to the next level.
“I like helping people see the big picture,” she said. “I want to help them reach their goals and then celebrate when they reach those milestones. My favorite thing to do is to help people.”
Cromer has earned an Alumni Master’s Scholarship for $2,500 through WGU Indiana.
She plans to keep working while taking classes. She says it’s her three boys that keep her pushing on.
“I do it for my children,” Cromer said. “To show them you can do anything you want but you have to work hard.”