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Kirkwood Community College Opens Door to Career Opportunities

By Livability on November 11, 2021

students at Kirkwood Community College
Courtesy of Kirkwood Community College

Kirkwood Community College is indeed the community’s college. For more than a half century, Kirkwood has opened up educational opportunities for the residents of Cedar Rapids and beyond, providing traditional two-year degrees and much, much more. 

“Virtually everyone in our area is touched by Kirkwood in some way,” Kirkwood president Dr. Lori Sundberg says. “When you get your car repaired around here, it’s probably going to be a Kirkwood graduate who takes care of you. When you go to the dentist, it will typically be a Kirkwood graduate who cleans your teeth. We see ourselves as an active partner to the community that we serve.” 

More than 17,000 students are enrolled in the college each year, attracted to the more than 130 degrees and programs the school offers. These include two-year degrees (with credits that can be transferred to four-year institutions), one-year certificates and diplomas, and short-term programs ranging from English language education to advanced certificates for current professionals. 

In addition, Kirkwood helps lay the foundation for the next generation of workers by allowing students to receive college credit while still in high school, as well as through the Kirkwood Interactive Camps for Kids (KICK) aimed at establishing early career skills for children ages 8 through 15. 

“We really do a lot more than just two-year degrees,” Sundberg says. “We provide everything from corporate training to leisure learning. We work with businesses to understand what kind of needs they have, then do customized training tailored to those needs. We help people get their high school diploma. So Kirkwood is really a full-service community college. We offer all kinds of learning opportunities for the residents of our district.” 

Teri Gibson graduated from Kirkwood in 1980, and says the school helped springboard her to a four-decade professional career. She eventually transferred her Kirkwood credits to Mount Mercy University, where she received a degree in business management and marketing, and has worked since 2006 at TrueNorth, an insurance and financial strategies company based in Cedar Rapids. 

“Kirkwood gives you the tools and resources to realize that you can do anything you put your mind to. It totally set the stage for my career,” Gibson says. “I mentor to youth in the community, and I tell them all the time that if they’re not sure what they want to do, then start at Kirkwood. It’s a very economical place to earn college credits and prepare for a successful career.” 

Gibson is a prime example of how Kirkwood benefits both individual students and the Cedar Rapids region overall. A study released in 2022 determined that Kirkwood and its graduates combine to contribute $795.5 million million to Iowa’s economy each year. 

“The vast majority of our graduates stay in the area,” Kirkwood media relations director Justin Hoehn says. “They come to Kirkwood, get the education and the training they need, then go into the workforce in the region. That just shows how much Kirkwood is directly tied to the community.” 

Visit us online at kirkwood.edu to learn more. 

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