Student Spotlight 2023: Kirby McDowell, U.S. Navy

Tell us about yourself.

I am from Cincinnati, OH, and served in the U.S. Navy as a musician. I joined the military because I wanted to be in the Navy Music Program. A fun fact about myself is that besides being a musician, I love to do other forms of art, including paracord weaving, glass torchwork, glass etching, painting, drawing, and graphic art.

Why did you decide to participate in WSP this summer, and was there a shift in your confidence level from the first day of the course to the last day?

After reading about the program through a link in a VA newsletter, I decided that it was perfect for getting me ready and in a frame of mind to go back to school in the fall. My confidence level was very low on the first day of WSP’s humanities and STEM course at Notre Dame. In fact, I wasn’t ready to attend because I had been away from school for so long. I almost messaged the program coordinator to remove me from the course. But, my wife, who was also attending the all-women humanities and business program at Notre Dame, assured me that I could do it. On the last day of the course, I was eager to start college in the fall. It gave me the confidence to move forward and the knowledge that I could do it and belonged in school.

What were some key insights you gained during your course, and what is your biggest takeaway?

The writing instructors and professors were key to raising my confidence level regarding English composition. They were extremely positive and provided outstanding feedback on our writing projects. I feel it prepared me for any English composition or writing class in which I may enroll. My STEM instructors and the various lecture professors removed my worst fear about returning to school…college math. I developed a curiosity for wanting to dive deeper into different aspects of college math because I gained a basic understanding of ways to navigate the unknown and acquired some tools to help with solving complex problems.

The most important takeaway from attending Warrior-Scholar Project was how to be a successful college student. I gained the confidence to realize that a college degree is a very attainable goal and that we, as non-traditional students, belong and can succeed in an academic environment. The tools I learned to develop strong study habits, good time management, and note-taking techniques are invaluable to my success in my degree program.

In one word, How would you describe your overall experience?


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