Bachelor of Science in Career and Technical Studies
Bob Kerr is the type of student the late Bill Harris had in mind when he hatched the idea for Sac State’s career and technical studies program.
Kerr’s bachelor’s degree did not come easy. He commuted from Vallejo for the weekend classes after working stressful graveyard shifts at the Vallejo Police Department. He also hadn’t attended college full-time since 1995.
“It was definitely challenging, but if it was easy, everybody would be doing it,” says Kerr, who graduated in May 2013 and earned the Dean’s Award for the College of Education.
Professor Harris started in special education, but when he saw a need to accommodate students who were interested in completing their degrees and expanding their professional horizons, he created what was then known as the bachelor’s degree in vocational education.
“Dr. Bill Harris was the visionary who saw that it could make a difference for our students and our campus,” says Bernice Bass de Martinez, who worked with Harris and now heads the foreign language department. “He was very supportive of individuals who stopped-out in completing their degrees for whatever reason. They are able to come back and complete their degrees using this pathway.”
Kerr was one of those students. He attended junior college and faced scheduling issues when he initially tried to get into Sac State’s program.
But he kept at it and while completing his degree, he impressed faculty and fellow students with his dedication and focus on improving the community as a whole.
“As I saw it, he was a man who was very humble and committed to achieving high academic excellence, but also committed to serving people,” says Vanessa Sheared, dean of the College of Education. “In the midst of his career, he chose to come back to school and he balanced that with his work and giving back to his community.”
The career field of adult/vocational education is growing rapidly. Sac State’s program is designed to give students highly sought-after instructional skills and open up opportunities in the professional world, or prepare them to pursue a master’s degree.
Kerr plans to put his training to use in his work as an instructor for fellow law enforcement officers.
“It’s fun and it’s also challenging,” Kerr says of the teaching environment. “Cops are suspicious of everything. It’s the hardest group to convince of anything, especially the officers that have been there a long time, but I think my degree prepared me for that challenge pretty well.
“I learned a lot through interacting with other students,” Kerr says. “When all the students are focused, it really raises the bar for the class. It really gets you prepared for real-world situations.”