Around Campus

Area residents, students go the extra mile for an education

Posted: Wednesday, February 04, 2004

It's no mystery to anyone that life is full of challenges. Each person faces a different set of circumstances that makes their life unique. Why is it that some people face adversity and find a way to overcome life's difficulties? The answer to that question can be found in the stories of the incredible students that walk the halls at KPC.

Z Durham (just Z) is a 24-year-old single mother of two "little princesses." She works 20 to 24 hours a week off-campus and 20 hours a week on-campus in the Student Union. She's also a full-time student carrying 13 credits and has a 4.0 grade point average.

Durham is working toward her associate of arts degree and plans to become a dental hygienist. She wants to work in Bush Alaska, because she is fascinated with the Alaska Native culture.

Durham grew up locally and ended up dropping out of high school when she became pregnant with her first child.

"When I saw three other girls at the graduation ceremony, I realized I made a mistake by dropping out. Over the next seven years I would actually dream about going to college. I finally got my courage together and came to KPC and the staff, especially Carrie Burford in Financial Aid, made college seem possible for me. My most inspirational moment came when Billie Hardy in the Learning Center set me up to take the Asset test. At that moment I realized, this is real," Durham said.

Durham said time management is the most challenging aspect of her life.

She admits, "I have a lot of support from my roommate and friends. It's hard to say, "no," when my friends ask me to go and have fun. But I have my priorities and my goal is in sight. I keep telling myself that if you don't have something you want, it's because you don't want it bad enough, and I know what I want."

Steve Bon, a 23-year-old full-time employee in the KPC Maintenance Department, has been a student at KPC since he was 18. He started out as a student employee and got hired in the full-time position when he applied.

He has accumulated more than 200 credits and already has earned a certificate in welding and an associate of art degree. He's now working towards a bachelor of arts degree in art with an emphasis on graphic design.

"I got married two years ago, and I want to be able to support my family," Bon said. "These days a college degree is not optional, even if it's just an A.A. I can't let myself fail, and I can't give up; there's too much at stake and the future is too important to me. I changed my degree four times since I got here, but KPC is a place where you can figure out the direction you want to go."

When asked if there was a moment of inspiration that he remembers, Bon doesn't hesitate.

"I was in Mark Jensen's Dreamweaver Web site building class and kept getting more and more frustrated. He told me to stop, walk away and let the stress go and only come back to the problem later," he said. "It sounds simple, but I've applied that advice to life and it really has helped me."

Next week's column will spotlight two more KPC students who have risen to the challenge of making college a priority in their lives, regardless of the curves life has thrown them.

Upgrades in technology

When students boot up the computers in the room 108 lab, they can rest easy knowing they are using the latest technology available. All the computers are brand new and part of the constant evolution of hardware at KPC.

According to Mark Jensen, KPC's computer guru, there really isn't a master plan for replacing computers, since it's dependent on the current pace of technology.

Jensen said it's important that the students "see" where their technology fees go. Two dollars per credit hour, up to a maximum of $24, is collected from each student at registration and is allocated to a fund that provides up-to-date equipment, software, maintenance, training and computer support services on campus.

The current upgrade has brought 20 new Dell Optiplex hard drives into the lab.

Since the university and the state have entered into a purchasing agreement with Dell, KPC has jumped on board, since the volume discounts help keep costs in check.

Jensen said even more money is saved because Dell will upload the college's own licensed software packages on every machine before it arrives. This saves his technicians an average of six hours when getting the computers up and running.

Jensen and his lead technician, Mike Hoppe, and the Kachemak Bay Cam-pus's I.T. technician, Dan Castimore, have all become "Tier I" Dell certified. This allows them to do warranty work on-site and have access to Dell's knowledge base. All this translates to more money saved and given current budget concerns, it makes sense to become more and more self-sufficient.

This column is provided by Suzie Kendrick, community relations coordinator at Kenai Peninsula College.

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