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Student sees the good in every day at Kirkwood

Outstanding Student, Comlan Houanvoegbe

By Denny West
On April 17, 2019

Originally from Benin, in western Africa, Comlan Houanvoegbe has been in the U.S. since 2011.  He’s a 32-year-old student majoring in Industrial Maintenance.  He has a wife, Dzifa, and two daughters, Grace who is 5 years old, and Mercy, who is 11 months.  He has been given an award for Outstanding Student in English. 

Q: Why did you choose Kirkwood Community College? 

A: I live in Cedar Rapids and this is the closest college to me. But the second reason is my employer is actually requiring this degree and they suggested Kirkwood.  And so, apart from that I myself wanted to come to Kirkwood, and now that my employer also wants me to, nothing could prevent me from coming here. 

Q: What are your plans after Kirkwood? 

A: I’m going to graduate this May but I will come back for another A.S. degree.  I want to become a control engineer but I’ve been researching, there’s not a clear program for that directly, so my intention is to try to combine a little bit of the IMT and a little bit of automation and I will also need some classes in IT and just kind of build-up that knowledge for myself.  They’ll be a kind of variety in the type of knowledge I want to get, so it’s a little bit complicated.   

Q: What is your favorite or best memory while attending Kirkwood? 

A: I think every day at Kirkwood has been great.  I can’t think of any bad days. I’ve been doing good almost in every subject including my general education requirements, especially in English now, it’s been great.  

I also like the fact that I’ve met some incredible instructors and some friends, too, it’s been a great experience.  This is actually my first time attending any kind of school in the United States, it was kind of a first experience and was a great impression.  I like it all together. 

Q: Who or what inspires and motivates you? 

A: So many people along the way.  Back from Africa, from my family, my Dad, even my Mom, too.  And I also had some good friends back then.  I’m also a religious person, my pastors and some of the people in the church, they kind of inspired me in many different ways.  When I first came to the U.S. I used to live in Moline, Ill., in the Quad-Cities and I met some good people over there, too.  When you’re outside the country you have a certain view of people but when you get in it you start meeting people and everything changes and you really see people and how they are and what they are actually.  I have the chance to meet some good people. 

Q: Who are you outside of academics and Kirkwood? 

A: I like to spend a lot of time with my family, especially now that I have little kids.  This is the time for them, I can’t prevent them from this opportunity. And, also, I like playing my guitar. I am a musician and I play guitar even in the house.  I also have some friends and we hang out together and play. 

Q: What does it mean to you being named an Outstanding Student in English? 

A: Well, I was happy.  I was actually looking forward to it because during my first year I looked at my GPA, I looked at how I was doing and all the feedback I got from my instructors. I was pretty confident something was going to come out of this and even in English. I didn’t think it could come from a general education requirement class.  I thought it would be something related to my major.  But all together I was expecting something like this. So, I was happy and it was kind of like “Ok, this is an accomplishment, yeah!”

Interview conducted by Denny West, A&E Editor

Outstanding Student Comlan Houanvoegbe was nominated by the English department. 
Photo by Jeff Sigmund.


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