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Student Profile: Russell Springs Native Sarah Asman Puts Web Development Skills to Use

sarah asman
Sarah Asman, with her two children Lincoln, left, age four, and Kennedy, right, age 2.
Somerset Community College student Sarah Asman completed her Associate Degree in Applied Science for Web Development this month. Asman, a native of Russell Springs, took most of her classes online and completed a web development practicum for the Kentucky office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI KY) as part of her degree. During that practicum, Asman created a website - namikyadvocacy.com - that is now being used publically by the organization.

Like many college students, Asman’s path to SCC was varied. Once she found her calling, though, she has excelled and has big plans for the future. Here is her story in her own words:

Sarah Asman:

“I am a 26 year old mother of two who loves Web Development and am pursuing a degree in that field. I plan to keep buying books and taking exams until I eventually get my doctorate degree. I currently work as the User Interface Developer and Graphic Designer for Premier Integrity Solutions in Jamestown. I also do freelance graphic design and web development, as well as photography.

It was a very winding road which led me to this period in my life. If I‘d been told five years ago I was going to be doing programming, I definitely would have argued that point! But so many things can change in five years and you can learn so much about yourself in that time.

I was born in Roseville California, but moved to Kentucky at the age of ten. As the youngest of three siblings, I was raised in my hometown of Russell Springs by my two amazing parents, Pete and Paula Asman. I am incredibly lucky to have them in my life. After 31 years of marriage, they are still together and love each other very much. They have shown me so much strength and loyalty to one another, as they have worked through the good and bad times together. To say my parents have been a great example to me is an understatement. They have always been very stern but loving, encouraging and accepting.

It was very hard for me to decide ‘what I want to be when I grow up.’ Some people just know when they graduate high school what they want to do for a career. I, on the other hand, had about fifteen things I wanted to do… so in other words, I had no idea.

First I thought I would become a cosmetologist. I even moved to Lexington and coerced my boyfriend and high school sweetheart, Kevin, to move with me. I was going to go to Kaufman Beauty School. I quit my jobs at Dairy Queen, CITGO and in landscaping to make my move on the world. We were off to a new land and new adventures! To make a long story short, though, I never enrolled in Kaufman. I decided I would rather be a fashion designer (I watched a little too much Project Runway). So I got a sewing machine, but before I even learned to use it I had already changed my mind again. Next it was an esthetician, then real estate agent, then marketing executive, teacher, interior designer, contractor and the list goes on.

I enrolled in KCTCS Lexington Campus while in Lexington. I took one year of classes, but decided college wasn’t for me. It wasn’t until I became a mother that I realized I wanted to go back to school. I felt an urgency to find a career that would allow me to support my child.

At that point in our lives, Kevin and I moved back home with our baby boy, and I got a job with Premier Integrity Solutions. I was the switchboard operator, which is a fancy name for answering the phones. I enrolled back in college to finish just the basics, and get my block transfer. By this time, I was on the computer every day at Premier. A lot of people would ask me for help with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, which were programs that I found very easy to use. The IT director recognized the pleasing aesthetic of my work and began wanting assistance on the design for the web applications and web sites he was building for Premier. So he installed programs like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and Flash on my computer. I quickly picked up on how to use the software, so the tasks from the IT department kept growing and I kept learning new things. Then I began learning small amounts of code…little things like how to make a button work in a flash presentation and how to create an html email. I realized how fun it was creating things for people to use on the web. I began taking IT classes at SCC and enrolled in the Computer and Information Technologies Web Development and Administration program. As my knowledge grew it was recognized at work and I was promoted to the position of User Interface Developer.

Now, I have just finished my Associates in Applied Science for Web Development and am transferring to Western Kentucky University in the fall. My practicum assignment, and final course for my associates, was creating a website for NAMI KY, which was such a pleasure. What I enjoyed most about my practicum was gathering the requirements for the website, figuring out the best way to make those requirements reality then actually carrying out my plan. I enjoy problem solving. It was nice to be able to give someone as sweet as Cathy Epperson, Director of NAMI KY, a functional website that met the organization’s needs.

I was presented with the opportunity to create a website for NAMI KY from my SCC Advisor Pamela Bridgman. She was aware that I was close to graduation and in need of a project for my practicum. She asked if I would like to take on the NAMI KY project and I was very excited to do so.

After Mrs. Bridgman verified with my practicum professor, Deana Proctor, that this project would meet the requirements for the course, I was given Mrs. Epperson’s contact information and we began corresponding through email.

When I finally completed the website and I made it ‘live’ or available for viewing on the web, I was very nervous. The requirements I was given for the advocacy website were very specific, down to font and approved colors. I really wanted the website to be received well, and not just from a visual standpoint, but the ease of use by the user. In the end, NAMI KY, my advisor and professor all expressed their approval and liking of the website.

Through the process of creating the NAMI KY Advocacy website, I learned a lot about the organization. There was a statistic I learned during my research that I’ll always remember because I found it alarming: one in four people suffer from mental illness. I didn’t realize mental illness was so prevalent. NAMI is such a great organization and resource that is making a real difference in the lives of so many individuals.

My experience at KCTCS and SCC has been great. I’ve had great professors and a terrific advisor. Pam Bridgman has offered so much guidance and help. She is the best advisor I could have been given and is much appreciated.

I’m really looking forward to the future. I have two children (Lincoln, age 4, and Kennedy, age 2) that motivate me every day to continue my education, so that I can provide a great life for them and make them proud. I’m still with my high school sweetheart Kevin, and even though we’ve never gotten married (we’ve been engaged for 6 years), we bought a house together in 2010, and are raising our little family together. Hopefully after I get my bachelors we can make some time for a wedding!”

To find out more about the Web Development Program at SCC, contact Pam Bridgman at pam.bridgman@kctcs.edu.