Dr. Robin Eckert

Associate Dean, Social Sciences/Human Services/Foundational Studies, Reading Area Community College

What brought you to RACC?

After I graduated high school, I came right to RACC. I was told for years that I had learning and reading issues and that I was not college material. In the 70s, you were either in a college, vocational, or general education track, and I was in the general education. What worked out in my favor was that during my senior year I would give up my lunch to lifeguard for my guidance counselor. I also taught swimming lessons to children which was something that I really enjoyed. My guidance counselor said I should enroll at RACC because they had a child development program and I enjoyed teaching children. I knew I did not want to work in the factories so my mom brought me in to RACC. I didn't know how to navigate the college world, so I was handed directly to the Admissions area. In those days, RACC was just starting out, so the staff was small. I ended being introduced to the Child Development Program Coordinator, who would eventually become my mentor.

How did your experience at RACC shape your career path?

My first experiences here in the Fall of 1980 was taking General Education classes and I wasn't a stellar student. I wanted to withdraw, but my mom told me you never quit and to hang on one more term. So, I stayed on for the Spring Term, and took my first Early Childhood Education class which I really liked. Also, I was able to spend time in the Early Childhood Education Lab School on campus. However, the unprepared college student in me reared its head. I went to an Early Childhood class and it was time for a major exam which I was not ready for because I didn't pay attention to the syllabus. I panicked. Judy Peterson Sherwood, the instructor and program coordinator, told me to go home and study because she would give me a second chance at the exam. If she had not given me a second chance, I would have been done with college. She also gave me a student worker position in the childcare center and that established my long career at here at RACC.

It took me two years to get my Associate's Degree in 1982. By the time I transferred to Alvernia University for my Bachelor's Degree, I was working for RACC full-time. My mentor served as my unofficial advisor who helped me negotiate my classes because as a first-generation college student, I didn't know what to do. After I received my Bachelor's degree, Judy asked me to develop a kindergarten program at RACC. A lot of RACC students who were on public assistance or were single moms struggled because in those days local schools didn't offer full-day kindergarten. So, students who didn't have extra transportation and couldn't pick their kids up at noon because they were taking classes, had issues. We ran that program for three or four years.

Then, I went for my master's degree at Nova Southeastern via distance learning. During those times, there was not really an online option, but all the materials were sent to you. I also applied for the position of Director of the Childcare Center at RACC. I completed my master's degree in 1994, and I began to teach Early Childhood classes in our management program and was splitting most of the teaching of these programs between Judy and myself.

Then I decided to enroll in the first cohort of the leadership program at Alvernia University to receive my doctorate. In 2016, I was moved into the Assistant Dean of Social Sciences, and through some restructuring, my title now is Associate Dean of Social Science/Human Services and Foundational Studies Divisions.

What advice/insight would you give to current RACC students?

They have the opportunity at RACC to explore wherever you want to go. They can do whatever they set their mind to; don't let someone tell you that you can't. If you have the grit, and it is in your heart, you can make it. The access, opportunity, and hope that RACC offers makes a huge difference.

2021 marks RACC's 50th Anniversary. What message would you like to pass on to President Looney and the RACC Community on this historic occasion?

Keep dreaming. We need to keep dreaming and remember we can do and be anything we want to be, and not be held back.

Graduation Year