Student Spotlight: Linda Kirby

Linda Kirby

Linda Kirby
Major: Engineering
Hometown: Villa Park

Linda Kirby graduated from high school a year early and was ready for college.

However, not knowing what to do with her life and in order to save money, she chose COD, and in 2005 she earned her degree in Automotive Technology.

Then Kirby's life took her in a new direction.

"I joined the Navy in 2006 and became a mechanic and laboratory technician in the nuclear power plant on an aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson," she said. "When I returned to Illinois, I wanted to continue in the mechanical path. But I didn't want to be a mechanic, so I chose Mechanical Engineering as a major for my second tour of COD."

Kirby is working toward her Associate in Engineering Science degree and plans to transfer to either the University of Illinois at Chicago or Northern Illinois University to pursue her bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering. Kirby's dream job is to work at Fermilab or, if that doesn't work, within the automotive industry.

While she was in the Navy, Kirby also began volunteering for a local hospice organization, which sparked a passion for helping people with dementia.

"I was put on limited duty in 2008 for treatment of depression, which was caused by the unexpected death of my mother," she said. "I used to talk to her every day because I was living on my own and had lots of questions, and I had nobody else to talk to about other issues. We were never very close before I left home but we really built up a good relationship once I had left. She was always there for me which I was realizing for the first time.

"When I was on limited duty, I went to Volunteermatch.com and found out there was a place a block away from where I lived, Hospice Community Care. The volunteer coordinator was a retired Navy chaplain so we got along well. Once the training was complete, I would visit people at various retirement facilities or at their own homes. All of my patients were female and with dementia, and most of them had husbands and children who served in the military. I loved talking to these ladies, even if they didn't have much to say. I realized that the passion behind my volunteering was driven by the need for a mother in my life. I can't wait until I have the opportunity to volunteer with dementia patients again."

While at College of DuPage, Kirby also worked in the Veterans Services office through the Veterans Work-Study Program.

"I helped veterans use their benefits, which requires customer service skills and an in-depth knowledge of veterans benefits," she said. "Working with the COD staff helped me become more professional and personable. It also helped me to understand what it is like to work in a professional environment."

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