If you take a walk with Kyle Slattery around BCC’s main campus — it could be a long one. This is because Kyle, who is friendly, out-going and approachable, seems to know everyone. And, he likes to talk. In turn, he draws people in like a moth to a flame. People simply want to be around him.
Before you know it, the five-minute walk turns into a half-hour due to a plethora of quick, upbeat conversations along the way.
Life wasn’t always this upbeat.
A couple of years ago Kyle moved from Chatham, NY to Pittsfield. He transferred into Taconic High School. The adjustment was hard. He felt he couldn’t relate to the other students and was disinterested in his classes. After failing 9th grade — Kyle dropped out.
Feeling lost and depressed he locked himself away in his bedroom and became immersed in a popular multi-player online video game, World of Warcraft. The game, which has more than seven million subscribers, allows participants to create characters. For many, like Kyle, the game quickly becomes an obsession and an escape from reality.
He played the game for two months straight. Life consisted of eating (barely), sleeping (some) and gaming. In addition, he dabbled in recreational drugs — which only made him feel more lost.
He knew something had to change.
“I kept thinking — is this really my life?” said Kyle. “I knew there had to be something else.”
Meanwhile, his mom kept reminding him about upcoming GED classes. Something clicked and he decided to go for it.
He attended GED preparation classes at the Adult Learning Center (then in downtown Pittsfield) and became involved in BCC’s Project Link, a free program, which provides courses, advising and educational skills training to prepare GED and ESL (English as a Second Language) students to enter BCC degree and certificate programs.
His life began to change — and so did his attitude. Kyle started taking classes at BCC and became very active in campus activities. He earned a certificate in manufacturing last Spring. He became involved with the Student Government Association and eventually elected Student Trustee.
He credits many at BCC for helping him to get where he is today — including Beth Wallace, BCC’s director of student engagement.
“Kyle is blossoming at BCC. He is absorbing every bit of knowledge he can and you can just see it in his face!He has touched so many lives,” said Wallace.
He is one of those students I will remember for years to come. He will definitely leave a mark at BCC.
But Kyle’s time at BCC isn’t done just yet. He’s currently working toward an associate’s degree in Engineering, which he expects to earn in May 2015. He’s interested to then transfer to UMass — possibly studying Engineering.
In the meantime, Kyle is studying hard and is enjoying his time as student trustee. And, chances are if there’s a campus activity or event, he will actively participate.
As for what Kyle sees himself doing 10 years from now — he’s not entirely sure. His continuous desire to grow and evolve often changes his interests.
As Kyle prepares to head off to class, he proudly shows off his new headphones plugged into his iPad and reveals that he likes to dance. Ever the willing participant, he obliges the request to show off his “popping and locking robot” moves. Kyle, who is over six feet tall, moves his lanky body with surprising ease. It’s even more surprising that he’s never taken a dance class.
After a small round of applause following his performance, he heads off to class with a smile and friendly wave. It’s just another day of his journey to success at BCC and beyond.