Where Are They Now Alumni Profile - Meet Krista Rowley
From high school drop out to principal, Rio Salado College alum touts education for creating her path
Not everyone knows what they want to be when they grow up. Even the most pre-planned aspirations can take a detour when life happens. And that’s where the real journey begins!
Take Rio Salado College alum Krista Rowley. High school wasn’t really her thing, so she dropped out. At 18 she was pregnant and searching for ways to take care of herself and her future family.
Initially, her career goal was to become an emergency medical technician. She was pursuing this path at a community college when she opened a daycare facility in her home.
From there, a passion for education was born.
Rowley enrolled at Rio Salado College to continue her education online while also running her daycare.
“I chose Rio because of the flexible start dates, the ability to move at my own pace in order to complete courses as quickly as possible, and because it was all online,” Rowley said.
The flexibility of online learning allowed Rowley to work and take care of her family while going to school.
“I am a very driven individual and I prefer to complete tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Rowley said. “I love learning at home. I was able to work on my schoolwork when my children were in bed for the night, during nap time, and/or before they woke up in the morning.”
Rowley completed her associate degree in 2014, and promptly took advantage of a partnership program between Rio Salado and Northcentral University to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2015.
“Since graduating, I have been working in education,” said Rowley, who also earned a master’s degree in educational leadership in 2017.
Today, Rowley is a principal at Mesa Center for Success at Jordan, a K-8 school for high-risk children. She developed a passion for working with special needs youth after taking Rio Salado’s EDU222 class Introduction to the Exceptional Learner.
“This class helped me to decide that I wanted to receive a dual teaching certificate in not just General Education but Special Education as well,” Rowley said. “The content was up to date on current trends and philosophies for helping exceptional learners who need a little extra guidance and support.”
Rowley has several tips for students to be successful online learners.
“First, build a schedule and set time for learning,” Rowley said. “Second, stay focused and dedicated. It also helps to have an accountability partner who will help you to stay on track. Finally, don't be afraid to reach out to your teachers for help. They want you to succeed just as much as you do.”
Rowley credits Rio Salado for giving her a foundation of career success.
“Without Rio, I would not have been able to attend college,” Rowley said. “Their flexible payment and class options made it possible. Rio Salado opened the door for me to start my career in a field that I love.”
She has also been helping to spread the word about the benefits of online learning at Rio Salado.
“At least two of my close friends have attended Rio and graduated,” Rowley said. “Currently, at my school, I have three teachers who are enrolled in Rio Salado's Teacher in Residence program.”
Ultimately, the school principal and mother of four is not done learning yet.
“What I do know is that I have a passion for educating individuals and I hope to continue to grow and expand my ability to educate both children and adults through the public school system,” Rowley said.
By Mira Radovich, Sr. Contributing Writer