I began taking a class at Kirkwood in January 2007 while still in high school. So, when I graduated, I had some credits. I received my bakery certificate in 2010. During that time frame the Midwest had massive flooding and our economy was down. The U. S. economy had tanked at about the same time, so I stayed at a job I hated but had put me through school. I took a class once in a while just for fun, because I finally liked going to school after being badly bullied in grade school and high school. I didn’t have a huge plan at the moment other than to gain baking skills and eventually become a baker.
In 2012, my life felt like it had been destroyed. In less than a month, I was incorrectly diagnosed with cancer (thankfully, I didn’t have it), my grandpa died, and I was hurt badly at work. The injury left me with a permanent disability and chronic back pain. I had my first back surgery before my 24th birthday and three more before I turned 30. After my injury I took an office job that I liked for a while but after a few years, I realized it wasn’t for me. So, I went back to school.
I will never be grateful that I got hurt but going back to Kirkwood felt like going home in some way. I have teachers I love, have made friends, and gained skills I am proud of. I have had some amazing experiences too. I have been able to study abroad in England, Denmark, and Italy. Hopefully, I can go to France this spring.
Since I have gone back to Kirkwood, I began working at the Communiqué and because of the paper, I have been able to meet Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg while they were running for the presidential nomination. I also got to meet Senator Liz Mathis.
An educational experience doesn’t have to be linear; mine certainly hasn’t been. It can definitely be frustrating to be assigned to work on group project with someone nearly half your age, and adding COVID-19 to the mix has made life harder in many aspects. However, getting an education is worth it in so many ways.
Jessica is in the Digital Arts program and previously graduated with an AA in Liberal Arts and a Bakery Certificate. She enjoys cooking, hiking with her dog, Daisy, taking pictures and spending time with her family.