Outstanding Students

Sara Roberts

Where are you from? I am from Marion, Iowa where I live with my two kids, Ryn and Liam.

Why did you choose Kirkwood? As an older student, I chose Kirkwood because it’s an easy commute, the class sizes are small and the tuition is affordable. I manage my family’s schedule and attending Kirkwood made it possible for me to work toward my degree while raising my children.

What is your major and how did you choose it? After some big life changes, I decided to pursue a degree in Graphic Communication & Technology. I’ve always been drawn to making designs on computers since the introduction of MacPaint. My older sister was a student at University of Iowa in those days and she had one of the first Apple computers. She would let me play with the MacPaint program and I loved it. After trying a few different avenues of study, I came back to my love of digital art and design in 2018.

What has been your proudest moment at Kirkwood? My proudest moment has been showing my children that believing in yourself can lead to beautiful breakthroughs. The last two years have not been easy. I constantly reminded them and myself that working hard to get where you want to go is going to come with challenges, doubts and tears. Receiving the Outstanding Student recognition has allowed me to show them that anything is possible if you work hard and believe in your ability to make your life into what you want it to be.

What are your plans after Kirkwood? Last summer I took a position as Marketing Coordinator at Horizons, a non profit in Cedar Rapids most known for running the Meals on Wheels program for our community. I believe that a career should be more than just a job, but a life purpose. The skills I’ve learned at Kirkwood will be used to give more exposure to programs that help those that need it most. I also run a small art & design business that I’m excited to give more time to.

What inspires or motivates you? I find my most creative breakthroughs happen when I’m least expecting it. Being outside in nature, spending time with my kids and listening to music really help me step out of the box and inspire me to look at things in new ways. I also appreciate meeting new people with interesting backgrounds and skills. 

Tell us about who you are outside of Kirkwood. I have an amazing support system that includes my children, parents and my two best friends – Denise and Mike. I couldn’t have done any of this without their words of encouragement and faith in me. I also love live music, good food and taking “Nature Walks” with my kids.

What does being named an Outstanding Student mean to you? Being named Outstanding Student has given me validation that all of this hard work was worth it. Nothing worth having is easy and I’ve put my heart and soul into the work I’ve created. I’m so proud of this achievement.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? I would like to thank David Brandstetter for this nomination. The first day I walked into his classroom, I was overwhelmed and unsure of myself. His challenging assignments have led me to some life changing design skills. I’d also like to give special recognition to my friend Maddy Pearson who was also selected as an Outstanding Student in the same program. It has been a long journey but WE DID IT!

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