Our next faculty spotlight is on John Alcorcha, department chair and instructor for the IT department at Campus, formerly known as MTI College. John has been working at Campus for an impressive 19 years and oversees programs such as Technical Support Specialist and Network Administration and Security. His commitment and hard work have not gone unnoticed, as he has received the Excellence Award from Campus as both a faculty member and as department chair. His own educational background consists of a bachelor’s degree in history from San Jose State University. John holds certifications as a Microsoft Office Master Instructor, a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), and CompTIA A+. He is currently working his way through the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) exams in support of Windows Server 2016. Teaching has always been the route John wanted to take. He majored in history with the intention of teaching it. After college, he did become a K-12 instructor in the New Haven Unified School District in the Bay Area, his alma mater. Teaching at that level was a great deal of fun, however, after a few years, he realized his passion and skill set were better fit for teaching adult learners. He moved to Sacramento and joined the technology faculty at Campus. As John explained in regards to teaching, “I always wanted a career in education. It’s something I always had an interest in. If I truly understand a skill or concept, I know that I can communicate the skill to others. I took advantage of that ability. I have built my career around education to share everything I have learned over the years.”
It is not difficult to see the passion for teaching that John is explaining. He has a great deal of responsibility as the department chair, but still teaches courses each semester as well. As the department chair, John works directly with faculty to support them in their classes. If they need any resources or support he is available to assist them in any capacity. He also works directly with students, even outside of the classroom, to make sure they have what they need to succeed in their program. In addition, he attends regular meetings for the Employer Advisory Board to determine what is needed for the local employer market, making sure students are being properly prepared. He also directly oversees the curriculum in the technology department to implement necessary updates and make sure the programs are up to speed to support student readiness. An advantage of Campus is that department chairs are still active as instructors every term, working “in the trenches.” This allows John, and all department chairs, to see how the curriculum is looking and be able to ensure proper curriculum updates are being made. It is a very hands-on and successful approach. Therefore, on top of his department chair duties, John teaches all of Campus’ Microsoft Office computer application courses, CompTIA A+ helpdesk support courses, and some networking classes as well. These are the courses that lead to students getting certified, specifically the CompTIA A+ certification. Other exams students will be prepared to sit for are the Security+ and MCSA certifications, all of which are incredibly valuable when looking to obtain a professional position within the field.
John’s own IT background is expansive. As he began to realize making a living with a history degree was a bit of a challenge, he started to enhance his own technological skills. When he started out in the field, it was during the web boom in the late 1990s. He had a long interest in, and natural inclination towards, technology so he started working on the side as a web developer. He also worked a great deal with spreadsheets and databases. With this, John began working at Campus as a computer applications instructor and taught classes in web development as well. “I think the cool thing is that I’ve always enjoyed technology and at Campus there’s always something new to learn. I have been able to maintain my own personal interest in working with web development and computer applications, technology support, hardware, and software.”
With administrators and instructors like John, students learn so much through Campus’ program. The college is a Microsoft Imagine Academy partner, which provides an incredible amount of resources to students in the technology field. Students are provided with Microsoft software and can download additional software through the Imagine Academy store. They receive Windows Server, Windows 10, and other operating systems, saving students a great deal of money. Also, students get access to Lynda.com accounts as part of their program, which provides them with supporting online courses. If a student were to miss a day of class they would have the ability to catch up there as well as the option to take supplemental courses that may not be a part of their program. John is not hesitant in expressing his pride in Campus’ program. “I think I am most proud of the fact that I’ve seen a large number of students, who I am still able to keep in touch with, who are successfully employed in the field.” He went on to say that students end up working in various capacities, whether it be in web development or technology support, for example. It is exciting to John to see students find their own career paths and do what they love. “I’ve been very happy to have had a small part in helping them on their way.”
When asked what advice he would give to both prospective and current students, John had a few things to share. “The biggest thing is to make sure they have an interest in and a passion for learning.” The program itself is challenging and it is a great deal of information for anyone to move through. Students just need to have a genuine interest in learning. It takes a lot of work, but students should come with a motivation and desire to learn. For those who do, there are plenty of resources to help them succeed. As John put it, “For me, I am always learning new things. That’s what I would do if I was working or not. I am very fortunate that I have a job that helps others to learn and I get to continue my own journey of learning on a daily basis.” He powerfully added that “if you have a real interest, something that you really enjoy, then work is not work, it is just what you do.”