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Nontraditional student overcomes barriers to success

Outstanding Student, Steven Ballard

By James Dykeman
On April 17, 2019

Steven Ballard was nominated as an Outstanding Student by Christopher Gray, 3-D art instructor – glass. 

Gray said, “Steven was an excellent student all around in my class. He was always in the classroom one hour before start time, asking questions and advancing his assignments.” 

Gray added, “He was also extremely helpful when other students wanted peer feedback for in progress work review days for their ideas, concepts and designs they were working on, as well as he took the lead on his groups group project helping to bring everything and everyone together for their final composition on that assignment. His attitude was always positive and inquisitive as well as respectful and courteous...He was an exemplary role model in the classroom and worked well with everyone.” 

Q: Why did you choose Kirkwood Community College? 

A: Because it had the field of study I wanted to take. 

Q: What are your plans after Kirkwood? 

A: To get a job in the field of study I took here at Kirkwood – Architectural Technology. 

Q: What is your best memory at Kirkwood? 

A: The day I realized that I’ve found my passion for working with glass. Something that I will pursue. 

Q: What inspired/motivated you to be successful, win this award and get your degree? 

A: Being open about it. I was incarcerated for almost 22 years. I’m 62 years old and was told that people in my position don’t make it and I wanted to show them that I’m not one of them. 

It’s been hard to do, yet I’ve succeeded in this endeavor. I didn’t know about the award until after I had won it and that I was even being considered. That’s when I became aware that people were noticing me and the effort I’ve put in to getting my degree and to graduate. 

Q: Who are you outside of Kirkwood? 

A guy not like most my age. I enjoy working out and spending time with my church family attending Bible Study and other activities. I go bike riding, help others in need, and I’m working on getting an internet business going to sell my architectural designs. 

Q: What does the Outstanding Student Award mean to you? 

A: It means that I wasn’t crazy for taking on college at 61 and that I’ll have a better chance in of getting a job and success. 

Q: What advice would you give someone just starting out at Kirkwood? 

A: That it’s never too late to reach for your goals and to not give up. 

Interview conducted by James Dykeman, Staff Writer

Outstanding Student Steven Ballard prepares to cut glass. Photo contributed.


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