Anyone of us can probably list off a litany of things we missed, had to give up, or couldn’t do while “riding out the storm” that is COVID-19. With the many obvious negative consequences from this pandemic, we hope to focus on the positive lessons learned amidst all the craziness and chaos.
Jacob Bryan Peterson, who likes to be called by his middle name, is a non-traditional student returning for a Digital Arts degree at Kirkwood. You might see him going between Nielsen and Linn for classes or out creating something for Kirkwood Student Productions (KSP), a natural application for his current focus of study.
“Before Covid, I was working 70, sometimes 80, hours a week at selling cars. Working with people, dealing with people – more-or-less being a problem solver for people. But my biggest problem with that lifestyle was I never had time for my son. Ever,” Peterson said.
He admitted “working to get by” he missed all of his son’s activities and although the money was decent, the time invested at work clearly diminished the quality of his family life.
Then in March of 2020, Peterson and other co-workers got laid off due to COVID circumstances. “I didn’t know what was going to happen with the future. Even today, everything is still so circumstantial with everything still going on,” he said.
Peterson, like many students, started thinking about what he was going to do with all of this new-found time. “Eating ice cream and brownies was only making things worse…true story,” he joked.
Through years of having worked in sales, he had a strong foundation in business and what it takes to succeed, but a lifelong passion for art and something more creative moved to the forefront of his thoughts.
Selling cars had not tapped into this creative side. The combination of an abrupt end to his career and a large influx of time lead to some serious life introspection. All this was transpiring at a time when he was staying at home with his son for his online learning, being in essence a fulltime teacher. He began to think along the lines of ‘if I am going to be here anyway, why can’t we learn side-by-side?’
And that is when an idea moved into action. By what could be considered an act of fate, Peterson received a catalog mailing from Kirkwood. When he saw the solid Digital Media/Digital Arts offerings and compared it to other schools’ programs, he said he jumped right in and enrolled. “It’s been amazing. A lot of doors have opened since making the change. A lot of positive doors,” he said.
“Whether a person realizes it or not, there are always moments in their day that hold opportunities to learn something new – to learn either about yourself, or what you are capable of, or even the external world around you,” shared Peterson about his thoughts on life-long learning. “When you think that learning stops, you close yourself off from many different areas of opportunity in life.”
“Life is experience. Every moment has an opportunity,” said Peterson.
JoEllen is a non-traditional student, wife and mother – learning new skills in the Digital Arts program at Kirkwood. She is a writer, photographer, digital artist and lover of life.