Somerset Community College graduate Kelly Howard didn’t think his path would lead him back home and into college when he quit school in 1991, obtained his GED and joined the United States Army. Now, Howard is headed toward his bachelor’s degree and recently landed a high profile internship at Bechtel Corporation, one of the world’s largest engineering, construction and project management companies.
Howard, now 38, was born and raised in Lincoln County, Kentucky. He joined the army after getting his GED and served in Texas, South Korea, Georgia and Alaska and was deployed to Bosnia and Kuwait. In 2002, Howard was medically discharged from the US Army after sustaining a knee injury. From 2002 until 2010, Howard worked as a civilian contractor for the US Army. He completed three years in Iraq as a civilian contractor building base camps in support of the US Army through Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR). He then took a job with American International Security Corporation (AISC), and did an 18-month tour in Afghanistan. While there, Howard and the rest of his eight-man special logistics team helped train members of the Afghan Commando’s on how to live and survive while members of the U.S. Army Special Forces taught them how to fight and win.
In 2010, Howard knew that the intensive labor jobs he had held in the past wouldn’t sustain him or his family for the rest of his life. He enrolled full-time at Somerset Community College and began his journey toward reaching his academic goals.
“I wanted to be able to provide for my family,” said Howard. “I visited SCC and knew it was small enough that I wouldn’t feel lost. The classes provided me the flexibility to work since I could do most of my class work online. Then, I met the instructors and everyone was just so nice.”
In May 2013, Howard graduated with his AAS with honors in Information Technology. This fall, he will finish his Associate in Science degree. He is currently enrolled at Western Kentucky University, where he is taken all of his classes online and will obtain his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Technology in only 18 months.
In the meantime, though, Howard landed a prestigious internship with Bechtel Corporation, a company that describes itself as “the most respected engineering, procurement and construction company in the world,” according to their website. The company was also named the top U.S. Contractor for the 14th straight year. Howard will be working at the chemical weapons neutralization project at the Bluegrass Army Depot in Richmond. His duties will include setup, installation and maintaining the network of computers and devices required for such a massive project.
“I knew of Bechtel because I had worked alongside their employees when I was in Iraq,” said Howard. “I knew they were a large, outstanding organization and I was thrilled to get the opportunity to be an intern with them this summer.”
Howard’s internship is a paid position and he hopes a full-time position may arise at the end of the internship.
Howard and his wife Julie currently reside in the Ottenheim area of Lincoln County. They have six children, Danielle and Devin Howard, Brian Morrison and Michael, Mitchell and Joel McClure. Both Michael and Mitchell are also students at Somerset Community College.
“I’ve received nothing but love, support and admiration from my family for going back to school,” Howard said. “I was worried about the financial difficulty I would put my family through while attending school, but I was able to find suitable work and to get assistance from the VA.”
“I’m very excited about what I’ve accomplished and am proud to be able to set an example for my children,” Howard said. “I tell them, if I get good grades, you can too. I try to lead from the front, set a good example and show them that the fruits of your labor really do pay off.”
Howard is a member of the American Legion Stanford Post 345, a member of Watts Chapel Baptist Church, a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and was awarded the 2012 Rising IT star award from SCC.