Where industry & education intersect
Rebecca Armitage takes center stage in our latest spotlight on ACTE’s educational institution members (EIM). Armitage is CTE manager and interim associate dean for business, IT and health-related technologies in the School of Applied Technology and Technical Specialties at Salt Lake Community College.
Salt Lake Community College is the only comprehensive community college in Utah. The institution serves more than 60,000 students annually, offering more than 200 career and technical education (CTE) programs of study. Salt Lake Community College is also a recognized leader in competency-based education (CBE); more than 20 CTE programs, as well as several general education courses, are offered in this modality.
Rebecca Armitage, Salt Lake Community College, EIM
Tell me a little about your job at SLCC. What do you do?
My permanent position is as the CTE manager. In this role, I assist in leading the institutional Perkins four-year planning team, managing institutional Perkins funds, and coordinating CTE efforts throughout our region. I collaborate to develop cohesive marketing messages, while maintaining all institutional program advisory committee membership listings and, most importantly, promoting career and technical education.
Currently, I am also the interim associate dean for business, IT and health-related technologies in the School of Applied Technology and Technical Specialties. In this role, I manage multiple CBE short-term, certificate-based programs designed to help move individuals directly into employment. Programs I oversee include are certified nursing assistant, graphic technician and commercial foods.
What barriers did you face in pursuit of postsecondary education? How did you overcome those obstacles?
I was raised by a stay-at-home mother; my father was a blue-collar worker. Neither of my parents encouraged higher education but they also did not deter me. My younger sister played a big role in getting me into college at the age of 27. I was a first-generation, low-income, single parent, nontraditional student. I had a great many hurdles and I would not have been able to complete school without identifying a community of support for myself and my daughter. One of the biggest helps for me, as a parent, was a now-defunct program at Arizona Statue University (ASU) that allowed me to bring my daughter to campus for child care.
I enrolled first at Glendale Community College; I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. After completing two years, I was ready to transfer to the university, until I learned I would have to quit work in order to complete that program. I was devastated. My math teacher told me to get my bachelor’s degree in something that I liked, and I could then get my postbaccalaureate teaching credentials.
That advice put me on the path to meeting my mentor; William Simmons, currently an associate professor of gender studies at the University of Arizona, was instrumental in strengthening my desire to make a difference.
In what subject is your bachelor’s degree? Did you pursue postgraduate degrees?
I obtained a bachelor of science in political science from Arizona State University. I then went on to get a master of arts in interdisciplinary students from ASU, and then a second master’s in social justice and human rights, also from Arizona State University.
What led you to your work at Salt Lake Community College?
After moving to Utah in 2011, I took a part-time job as a recruiter for the applied technology programs at SLCC. Within one year I was working full-time. With some institutional restructuring, our former dean — Eric Heiser, now provost at Central Ohio Technical College — identified a need for a manager to support CTE programs, Perkins, the work of the CTE director, and other institutional endeavors. I was fortunate enough to be selected for the position. CTE is something that I am truly passionate about.
I worked in the diesel/shipping industry for 20 years, where I learned a great deal about industry and how education intersects. This has been a great benefit to me as an educator. I can bring industry knowledge and experience, coupled with my formal education.
How do you like working on campus?
I love working on campus. SLCC has 11 campus locations and I enjoy the opportunity to visit most of these sites. I get to see students in action; I have conversations with diverse faculty members and watch programs grow.
Do you have any advice about the higher learning experience that you would offer to students who intend to pursue postsecondary education in CTE?
Apply for scholarships! There’s funding out there, but you need to apply. Don’t wait until the day before the deadline — reach out and ask for help. Use the resources around you to help in forming articulate statements. Speak with your teachers early to request letters of recommendation. We’re here to support you in your endeavors and only want the best for you.