Outstanding Students

Chantal Shirley

Q: Where are you from? (city, state) 

A: Cedar Rapids, Iowa 

Q: Why did you choose Kirkwood? 

A: I chose Kirkwood because it provided me with a feasible route to enter software development after leaving a non-technical field. 

Q: What is your major and how did you choose it? 

A: My major is Computer Software Development, and I chose it because I initially had an interest in logic a few years back. I left my previous career, and after taking a Java class on Coursera in the Summer of 2019, I found that I loved working with computers and building software. I knew at that point that I wanted to take my skills to the next level. My desire to learn more, experience small classroom sizes, and have professors who are experts in their fields lead to me enrolling at Kirkwood. 

Q: What has been your proudest moment at Kirkwood?  

A: Reflecting over my time at Kirkwood, I would have to say one of my proudest moments was when I won the Fall 2020 Honors Project contest while holding down a part-time job at an ed-tech firm in Iowa City and being enrolled as a full-time student. 

Q: What are your plans after Kirkwood? 

A: I plan to either enter the field as a software engineer full-time, or build on what I have learned and potentially enroll in a graduate program at the University of Iowa. 

Q: What inspires or motivates you? 

A: Seeing the things you plan in code, come to life, and have real utility is one of the most self-motivating aspects of software development. Giving back through the automation of tasks and facilitation of processes can be a reward in and of itself too. I have also had the rare privilege of having code that I wrote be used by people globally from a job that the Kirkwood Career Services office helped me land during my first semester. When my code got pushed across the world, it was a pretty surreal feeling knowing that I can make a difference through my digital footprint. 

Q: Tell us about who you are outside of Kirkwood – hobbies, family, other interests, etc. 

A: I enjoy spending time with my partner Dr. Roberts, playing Dungeons and Dragons, painting miniatures for RPGs, playing complicated board games, playing video games, going camping, and taking my dog outdoors when the weather is nice. I also enjoy tinkering with my Raspberry Pi and taking apart computers when I have the time. 

Q: What does be named an Outstanding Student mean to you? 

A: For me, it is an honor to have the countless coding sessions and long study nights all pay off in the form of this recognition. Balancing school, work, and family life can feel daunting at times, but I have had a great support network at home and at Kirkwood, world-class professors, and real-life work experience that have all helped make this moment a reality. 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

A: I feel that I have been given so much here at Kirkwood, and I hope to one day contribute back in all the ways I feel that Kirkwood has nurtured my intellectual curiosity and personal growth. 

Categories: Outstanding Students