Meet the students Monday: Kira Walters
by Vicki Heisser and Jessica Young |
For Kira Walters, the journey to Alaska and PWSC has not all been easy. Coming from a Coast Guard family, Walters has lived in and experienced many places, from Maine to South Carolina to Guam, Virginia, Washington, and even Alaska when she was a child. Before coming back to Alaska as an adult, Walters was in the Carolinas where she spent 8 months living in her car to help her save for college. Currently, while Walters is here at PWSC in Alaska, her family is in Honolulu, where her younger brother is receiving treatment for leukemia.
It’s taken a lot for Walters to get where she is and she is grateful to be back in Alaska, a place she connects with because of her love of the outdoors, a love that she credits her father for.
“Since I was four years old I remember going deer hunting with him and always being outdoors with him.”
But a love of the outdoors is not the only reason she’s made her home here in Valdez. “Moving around so much, it was hard to find somewhere that felt homey. I was born in Maine, but I was only there for six months after I was born. And so when people asked me where I’m from, it’s kind of like a toss up for me. I’m like, well, I’m kind of from a lot of different places, I guess. And the place that I was born in, I don’t really consider that home. And so Alaska, when I came here, it felt the most like home to me. It felt, I mean, just very comfortable. It’s a small town. People are nice. It’s gorgeous. It was everything that I was kind of looking for. And something that I was searching for was a place to call home. And this is the place that I kind of found.”
A very determined person, Walters has spent a lot of time working hard to get where she is now.
“I kind of gave up the social aspect of my life for a very long time, up until probably my junior year of high school. And I was just school work, school work, school work, school work because I wanted to create the perfect college application out of my life. I was a finalist to the top three in the world, for a military child, [during] my freshman year. I was up against kids of all ages and I was a freshman and I got to the top three. So, I mean, I had hundreds of hours of community service, great grades. I was in the Civil Air Patrol, or CAP, a volunteer organization within the Air Force Total Force. I flew planes, gliders, taught classes about leadership, space, drill(marching), instructed PT (physical training), earned certifications like Flight Line Marshaller (the people who direct planes on flightlines), Ground Team Member (search and rescue), Urban Direction Finder (search and rescue but in urban settings), and Radio Operating Certifications. The 3 missions of CAP are Leadership, Aerospace Education, and Cadet Programs.”
Being driven, Walters says she even “started a swim team at my last high school because there was no swim team and I love to swim. So I started a swim team.”
It is clear that when she wants something, she goes for it, and now she is here in Valdez doing just that at PWSC. But now, while she still wants to make her family proud and achieve the degree and focus on academic matters, she also sees the need for developing relationships with others as she makes Valdez her home.
“I was really concerned with pleasing them [her parents] and…creating the perfect college application out of my life and I realized that it was important to have human connections as well.”
Part of that connection for Walters means listening to each other and coming together rather than growing apart.
“I think that people may have forgotten how to just listen to one another. Because people are always going to have different opinions and that’s not the issue. It’s not a bad thing for everybody to think in a different way because we wouldn’t be able to advance as a society without different ideas. So we need to learn how to come together and have a middle ground and respectfully have that middle ground.”
Being in Valdez, where she feels she is now able to spread her wings and be more independent, Walters is focusing on getting her associate degree from PWSC with a hope to eventually do something that helps others.
“Once I had realized that I was able to take my own path, I realized I could do anything…Something that I’ve always loved is helping people…For advice, people come to me. For all sorts of things, I’m a good listener. And I always had a good vocabulary and I’ve always liked to write, so I had an interest in counseling, in social work, in psychology, those sorts of things. But I also love nature…I have this wide-range of things that I am interested in. I think with the associates of arts, I can kind of figure that out and go from there.”