Real Story: Courtney Pelkey

Courtney Pelkey

CSM Class of 2023, Computer Science 

A headshot of CSM student Courtney PelkeyTransfer Institution: Towson University

When I think of who I am, I think of all the challenges I went through to get to this point in my life—and the people who have encouraged me to keep going and not to give up. I would not have expected the things I’ve gone through to help change me into a better person.

The most important value to me is to continue to learn. I have always been taught from a very young age to continue my education till my last breath, to always learn something new, and to educate myself. I am the first in my generation of my family to get an associate degree, and eventually my bachelor’s, in computer science.

My uncle taught me that going into debt is a big deal when it comes to education, and that I should try to come out with as little debt as possible. He told me that community college can have more benefits than going to a four-year university. Since I knew a large number of people at CSM already and was trying to save as much money as possible before going to a university, I thought to myself, “Why not go here? I have people I know, it can prepare me for the university, and I might have better opportunities.”

My education is the most important to me when it comes to representing myself. I worked on numerous tech certifications while going to school and interning at CSM. My hope is to get my bachelor’s in computer science with a minor in information technology and then eventually get an associate degree in cybersecurity later down the line. 

I first started at CSM right before the pandemic, and I made incredible memories with the people around me at the time. We hung out after school in the student life centers every day. We would help each other study, play games, and talk about our days.

Later, as time went on and things started to recover, I got a job at the college’s IT department through Work-Based Learning. I made so many great memories with the staff and students here working as a student assistant. One memory that stands out is the Spring Fling where I got to enjoy the escape room with a few co-workers and even some students.

I got involved with Work-Based Learning through talking about it with a member of one of the clubs I’m in. As the only computer science student in the club, she suggested that I apply. At the time, I didn't think much about it and didn't see how I would get selected for a position, but, to my surprise, I got an email inviting me to interview at the IT department. WBL helped me so much—I’ve grown from not knowing anything about computers other than programming languages into a confident IT student assistant. I learned what it takes to work in IT support, building computers, troubleshooting software, identifying different hardware, and providing customer service. WBL helped me improve my resume, learn more about my field as a computer science major, and get my foot in the door with working in IT. 

The IT department was also really flexible with my school schedule when it came to midterms and finals in these crazy 7-week courses, too. I also made tons of friends, from faculty to students. Whenever I hear a student asking about it, I always recommend they apply and see where it takes them.

The one thing I wish I would have known is how quickly your college years go by, and to enjoy what you have in life.

My advice to students is to not be afraid if other people seem to be going at a faster pace than you. It might take one person two years to get their associate, while another person might take four. Not everyone’s life follows the same pattern as everybody else’s, so take your time.


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Last updated: 5-18-23

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