I started my collegiate career with a terminally ill father at home and roommates that were more interested in freedom than education. I was enrolled in a bachelor’s program that was definitely not a fit for my talents. Regardless of these issues, I moved forward. Even after burying my father and switching degrees twice, I managed to graduate on time. I didn’t set any academic records during my time at the University of Kentucky, but I did discover a technical field where my passions aligned with the curriculum.
I was ready for what the world had to offer me. To my surprise, I was not instantly employed in a well-paying job with a company car and fringe benefits. After a rash of serving jobs and a yearlong stint as a directory assistance operator, an opportunity presented itself and I was interested. The company was 3rd Dimension Design, a local multi-media startup looking for creative talent. I applied, got the job, and after a year I became a partner with the business.
For the first few years I was solely graphic design, but over time I learned HTML, CSS and PHP. I used these skills for client websites, web applications and deliverables. Over time our projects grew along with our client base. By 2006, 3rd Dimension Design had 10 employees and a large-scale social network project as our main focus. During this time, I focused on project management, the inner workings of web systems, and information architecture. Even though that time of my life was very hectic, I learned who I was, what I was capable of, and what I wanted to do.
By 2007, we concluded our social networking project and my company scaled down and back. We started focusing on local business offerings. Soon after, one of my partners left to pursue other endeavors in real estate and I took over 3rd Dimension Designs’ business operations. I spent most of my days trying to grow the business while maintaining past clients.
In the fall of 2008, I was approached to teach a graphic design course at ITT-Technical Institute. My collegiate experience had left me with a bittersweet taste, so I was very hesitant about the opportunity. I had worked so hard since graduation to develop my skill set, and attributed very little to my undergraduate degree. I was pessimistic towards institutional learning and higher education.
Despite my reservations, I accepted the adjunct position and fell in love with teaching. I started out thinking that talent and passion were the only things that really mattered in the real world. After teaching, I realized that students can learn and an education can be an asset.
January 2013 marked a new chapter in my development and career. I began working for Kentucky Community and Technical College System’s Marketing and PR department as a front-end web developer. I immediately faced several hurdles associated with working for such a large institution. I am exposed to new programming languages, unfamiliar architecture, and new project workflows. I now develop more and design less and I find myself wanting to know more about computer programming.
That brings us to today and a simple question, “Why?” Why do I want to start graduate school now? I have a few reasons. First, I would like a formal education in computer science. I’ve learned plenty about scripting and languages over the years, but I would really like a formal approach to computer science. Not only will it help me with my present job, but it is also an invaluable skill I will be able to use and grow for years. Second, a graduate degree will open more teaching opportunities. The program I taught at ITT is now closed and a graduate degree will separate me from the competition if I decide to teach again in the future. Third, I am at a place in my life where I can appreciate the value of an education and will savor the opportunity to grow as a programmer. I am applying to the Master’s Program for Computer Science as a web developer with a plan. I am ready to learn what I can offer to the world.