The couple has worked at UNLV for a collective 36 years. Rebecca S. Rogers is assistant director for UNLV GEAR UP, while B. Keith Rogers serves as deputy executive director for the Center for Academic Excellence and Outreach (CAEO).
Both completed their doctoral degrees in fall 2018 with Rebecca earning a Ph.D. in workforce development and organizational leadership at UNLV and Keith earning a doctorate in business administration from Grand Canyon University. They both are two-time UNLV alums. Keith earned a bachelor’s degree in management information systems in ’99 and an MBA in ’03. In ’05 Rebecca earned a Master of Social Work degree.
Inspiration to get into your field
Keith: Growing up in a low-income and first-generation family, coupled with being a Trio participant and working as a student at CAEO, I developed a passion for helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds recognize that they have the potential to attend and graduate from college and connecting them to the associated resources along the journey.
Rebecca: As a former participant of a TRIO program, I was excited when I had the opportunity to work for a similar program. It was my participation in Upward Bound that really sparked my interest in college, and I am forever grateful for programs that provide services such as these to low-income, first-generation families.
Share an “a-ha” moment in your career; a time when your perspective shifted and shaped where you are today.
Rebecca: Programs such as TRIO/GEAR UP truly work and make a difference in the lives of so many middle, high school, and college students. My perspective shifted when I was hired to work in a similar program that I was involved in when I was in high school and being able to give back to students that were just like me when I was that age.
Keith: As a student at UNLV I worked at CAEO primarily developing databases and websites, and during my last semester before graduating, Dr. William Sullivan asked me if I would consider continuing to work at CAEO as professional staff rather than moving back to the East Coast to become an entrepreneur. I stayed, and the rest is history.
Which resonates more for you – different, daring or diverse?
Keith: Diverse, because (for me) it establishes a foundation from which to be different and daring. Also, being diverse enables us to be ambidextrous — meaning that we can simultaneously exploit our current strengths and explore new ways to improve processes and practices that satisfy an unmet need and/or create value.
Rebecca: Daring! I am a very adventurous person and I believe in taking risks. It was that belief that lead me to Las Vegas in 2001. I remember my best friend asking me was I sure that I wanted to up and move to Las Vegas (from Carbondale, Illinois). I told her that I was “stepping out on faith” and I did just that!
Share a lesson learned from a student.
Rebecca: You truly can do whatever you want to do when you set your mind to do so. This lesson came from high school students who I have encountered that were homeless while attending high school, worked part-time jobs, and still graduated from high school with a high GPA and were accepted into the college of their choice. Persistence truly does pay off when you have your mind set on what you want to do.
Keith: Having been in this field for two decades, I often cross paths in the community with former students who are now adults, many with their own families. One student thanked me for being one of the few who offered encouraging words prior to entering a college out of state and those words helped that student persevere through tough times and ultimately graduate. Always be mindful of what you say because words matter, and it can be the difference in whether a student succeeds or fails.
Advice would you give your younger self
Rebecca: Take full advantage of opportunities that are presented to you. Those opportunities can lead to lifelong relationships, wonderful mentors, and unique opportunities that can lead to life-changing experiences.
Keith: It is okay not to know what you want to study in college and what career to pursue after; it is more important to always do your best and remain open-minded to new and unexpected opportunities. You might surprise yourself and end up doing what you love.
Something people would be surprised to learn about you
Keith: That I am the youngest of 10 children, and I grew up in a town with a population of 305.
Rebecca: That I would love to write a couple of children’s books — one on “identity” centered on children who are biracial and one centered on children who have a sibling with a disability.
The last book you couldn’t put down, show you binge-watched, or band you kept on replay
Rebecca: The last book that I could not put down was Becoming by Michelle Obama. She has always been amazing to me and I truly enjoyed reading her story.
Keith: I am currently reading Breaking Free: Leading the Way by Traci Duez. The book is about learning first to lead yourself through developing value habits based on your strengths and thus unleashing the intrinsic brilliance within.
How you keep a balance between your personal and professional lives
Keith: I am going to defer to my wife on this one. (said with a smile)
Rebecca: The one thing that Keith and I have found that helps us balance our personal and professional life is “flexibility.” This can be tough at times, especially when we were both in school because we are both very active in the community and within our respective organizations (Alpha Phi Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta). So, we established a system that works for us by placing all events and activities on a shared calendar and we typically talk about what we both have going on at the beginning of the week. We have modified and made adjustments along the way but overall the system works. Had we not had a system in place, there is no way the two of us would have been able to finish school at the same time.