Student Stories: Linda Kirby

Linda Kirby

Major: Electro-Mechanical Technology

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 College of DuPage and earned her degree in Automotive Technology.

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

“I joined the Navy 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 initially chose engineering as a major for my second tour of COD.”

Kirby has since redirected her efforts and recently completed two Associate in Applied Science degrees in Electro-Mechanical Technology and Automated Manufacturing Systems, graduating with high honors.

While she was in the Navy, Kirby also began volunteering for a local hospice organization, which sparked a passion for helping people with dementia. She currently volunteers with Lexington Hospice in Lombard, which she has done since 2012, and volunteers in other ways to help people who cannot afford the care they need.

“When I was nearing the end of my service, I went to 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.”  

While at College of DuPage, Kirby 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.”