Canada native Kirk Salmond said that at age 36, he found himself as a married father of four in a career in Huntsville that he loved, but where he had little opportunity to advance.

His career path and outlook on life changed drastically when he took an opportunity two years ago to train at Drake State Community and Technical College in Huntsville. Salmond completed an Associate of Science Degree in Computer Information Systems (CIS) at the college in December.

He accepted a job as a system administrator at the Cook Museum of Natural Science in Decatur the day after his last class at Drake State last month.

“My time at Drake State has paid off in a very tangible way,” Salmond said during the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, January 9.

“Without my time at Drake State I would not have had the skills, knowledge, or courage to apply for or receive such a wonderful career placement. The staff and faculty have been an important part in the advancement of my career and the quality of life I’m able to provide for my family as I move forward.”

Salmond said he and his wife agreed two years ago that he needed his associate degree to compete in the Huntsville area job market, but that he needed to obtain the degree while continuing to work full-time and without incurring debt.

He said he chose Drake State because the college was affordable, offered smaller class sizes, had a good record of graduates who found jobs in the area, and offered online courses and a class schedule that was flexible enough for him to continue working.

Salmond was a Presidential Scholar at the college, which resulted in an academic scholarship opportunity to complete his degree. Even a certification exam expense was covered by a local business through Salmond’s connection with Drake State, he said.

He received a scholarship from Apple in the fall to travel to Washington, D.C. as a scholar through a partnership between Apple and the Thurgood Marshal College Fund.

“The skills I learned helped me in my job search and will continue to assist me in a variety of ways as I navigate the corporate landscape as a leader and an employee,” he said.

“The coursework at Drake State prepared me for the certifications that I needed in the computer information industry. I’m proud of my school.”