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Student of the Month

January Student of the Month: Chantal Shirley

By January 15, 2021February 1st, 2021No Comments

What is your background?: I grew up as an army brat moving around quite a bit as a child and teenager. I come from a family of hard workers and service members. My mother works in education, my father is a retired Army Officer, and my younger brother is currently serving in the Air Force. I also have men in my extended family that served in WWII, including a great-great-uncle, Jimmie Wheeler, who served as a Tuskegee Airman. I spent my formative years mostly in South Florida and Arizona, and high school years in Georgia. My previous education and career have taken me to places like New Hampshire and Las Vegas, Nevada. I found myself in Iowa after my partner, Dr. Roberts, started working for the University of Iowa, developing curriculum, managing the observatories, and doing outreach work.

What brought you to Kirkwood and why?: I was unhappy in my previous career and found myself limited to unsatisfying employment outside of it. For a few years, I was interested in software development, but my previous schooling and professional experiences limited me in the ability to enter the profession. After deciding that I would like to go back to school and make a career change, I began looking at Kirkwood. The face-to-face instruction, small classroom size, and Computer Software Development program ultimately led me to the decision that I should apply. Seeing Kirkwood’s offerings was the first time I encountered a feasible route to a new career path that I was passionate about and that my previous degrees could not offer me.

What is your program of study and what interests you about it?: I am a second-year student in the Computer Software Development program, specializing in Java Programming and .NET Development. I am fascinated by things like the development process, software architecture, design models, prototyping, DevOps, and application development. The program has transformed my entire way of thinking and conceptualizing ideas. It is incredibly rigorous, and the challenges that I encounter are always intriguing and rewarding.

Are you involved in anything else on campus? If so, what and why?: When time permits, I have enjoyed participating in the Cyber Defense Club, STEM Club, Phi Theta Kappa, and LSAMP. Through these affiliations, I have participated in competitions, listened to fascinating lectures, and attended conferences.

Are you involved in anything off of campus?: Off-campus, through the support and guidance of the Career Services office, I was able to network and obtain employment as a part-time Software Quality Assurance Tester at the beginning of my enrollment in the Computer Software Development Program. This part-time employment has allowed me to gain real industry experience alongside my coursework at Kirkwood.

What do you do for fun?: For fun, I enjoy camping with my partner and dog, playing complicated board games with friends and neighbors, working on open-source software and personal applications, playing Dungeons & Dragons with friends and family, and cooking and baking at home.

Where do you see yourself in five years?: In five years, I see myself developing software and making architectural decisions as a Full-Stack software engineer. I would love to work for an organization with a mission that gives back to society. Moreover, I envision myself contributing to open-source software projects, volunteering in software-related projects, and developing software independently.