Maricopa Emergency Management System Alert

Meet the Faculty: Dr. Kerrie Specker

photo of Kerrie Specker with text: Meet the faculty Dr. Kerrie Specker Computer Technology Kerrie's grandsons, Grey (left) and Gunner (right), with her chickens

Meet the Faculty: Dr. Kerrie Specker

Celebrating a Love of Teaching, Technology and Chickens

As the faculty chair for computer technology at Rio Salado College, Dr. Kerrie Specker defies the traditional techie stereotypes. She leads an academic program in a male-dominated profession, has a life outside technology, and most importantly, she’s entirely relatable. 

“I'm a first-generation college student,” Specker said. “It took me about 10 years to complete my associate degree at Rio. This inspired me to help others do the same.”

Specker went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Governors State University, a master’s degree from Webster University, and a Doctor of Education from Northcentral University. She has proudly served students at Rio Salado for 31 years.

“I enjoy my role at Rio because I'm lucky enough to see many student accomplishments,” Specker said. “Working in education provides me with a great feeling of gratitude and hope for future generations.”

One of Specker’s favorite aspects of working at Rio Salado is seeing students realize their educational dreams at graduation.

“Our annual commencement ceremony is my absolute favorite Rio event,” Specker said. “It's inspiring to watch so many people take a step toward their ultimate academic goal.”

Specker’s dedication to student success is evident through her past and present involvement in multiple college activities, including serving as honors program director and faculty senate president.

In 2018, Specker received the League for Innovation’s John & Suanne Roueche Excellence Award honoring outstanding contributions and leadership by community college faculty.

Reflecting on her accolades took Specker back to where her interest in technology began.

“I started doing desktop publishing and really enjoyed it,” Specker said. “After completing a hands-on software application certificate, I knew the field of computer information systems was for me.”

For those interested in the technology field today, Specker identifies several career pathways.

“With a certificate of completion or an associate degree, students can pursue many entry-level jobs including computer maintenance, helpdesk and network technicians,” Specker said. “These opportunities increase if students also earn industry recognized certifications after taking Rio’s certification prep courses.”

In addition to certificate and degree programs in information technology, Rio Salado offers prep courses for Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), CompTIA (A+, Network+, Security+), and Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) certification exams.

While pursuing a career in technology lends itself to Rio Salado’s online education, Specker said there are tips that can help students be successful in a cyber environment.

“Stay on task, because it's so hard to catch up after falling behind in an online course,” Specker said. “When I was working on my doctoral degree, it helped me to schedule homework time on my calendar even though I didn't have in-person classes.”

With her time leading Rio Salado’s computer technology program coming to an end, Specker looks forward to retiring later this year.

“I feel I have been very fortunate to start and finish my career at an institution that does not see CIS (computer information systems) as a male-dominated field,” Specker said. “I have always felt like my voice was heard.  I've always been able to try new things. Some of them fail, but that's okay. I've always felt supported in doing so.”

Even in retirement, Specker won’t be leaving education far behind.

“I enjoy teaching and plan to teach part-time for several colleges and universities,” Specker said. “I also plan on spending more time with my grandsons, who are 9 months, 2.5 years and 8 years old.”

She also looks forward to spending more time with her animal companions.

“In addition to my beloved dog, Charlee, I have six chickens,” Specker said. “They make great pets and provide the family with plenty of eggs. Many people do not know that chickens have great personalities. My grandsons spend a lot of time holding and hugging them.”

Pictured above is Kerrie's grandsons, Grey (left) and Gunner (right), with her chickens.

By Mira Radovich, Senior Contributing Writer

Share this article