Interview with Kelly Brown

by Shannon Stites and Jessica Young  |   

What was your motivation for completing your degree?

When I graduated from high school in 1992, I never wanted to go back to school. I worked a lot of thankless jobs, for many years after high school. I moved to Valdez in 2004 and started a good paying job with a contractor, working in a warehouse. I changed positions after about a year and changed companies about a year after that. The day came, however, when the company did a re-organization and started laying people off from their jobs, and it just so happened that I was one of those people.

This was when I decided to give school a try. I wanted to do something that would make me a more valuable part of the team. That something was to earn a degree. When I first started back, it was for the degree, however, it was not long after that it became more for me, and about my determination to prove to myself that I could do this. It soon became where I could not wait to go to class because I was so excited about what I was learning. College is definitely not like high school, you certainly have a lot more say in what you learn than you ever had in high school, and I loved that.

Once I started, I had no desire to stop until I reached my goal of proving to myself that I could and would get my degree. I put in a lot of late nights and a lot of long hours, but I would not change a thing. It was one of the greatest feelings in the world, walking across the stage and getting my degree. The whole experience, I feel, has made me a better person than I was.


How long has it taken you to complete your degree?

It took me quite some time to finish my degree. I juggled many things and took what classes I could in what time I felt I had to give. So in all, I think it took me 8 years to get my degree. But it was worth every year, every semester, and every class. I would not change a thing.


What were some obstacles you had to overcome while obtaining your degree?

There were a few obstacles that I had to, not so much overcome, but rather learn to manage while I was obtaining my degree. I worked a full-time job during the day, and I was a full-time mom and wife at night. I ran sometimes on very little sleep, studying for tests or doing assignments. It was just something that I knew I had to deal with and figure out a schedule for, and I did.


What advice would you give to another student?

My advice would be to start off by saying “I can” rather than looking for reasons why you can’t. We all have made excuses as to why we can’t do something; do yourself a favor and give yourself a reason to do something. Maybe you always wanted to learn more about the history of Alaska, or you may want to know what causes an earthquake. Guess what- there are classes that you can take to answer these questions and many more.

Do not let the thought of going back to school overwhelm you. You can take your time. You do not have to finish your degree in two years. Do what is right for you!