If you looked at Brandi Kishbaugh’s past you would never believe she is an outstanding San Juan College student working toward degrees in mechanical and civil drafting.
Kishbaugh grew up in Montrose, Colo., under the hand of an abusive father. She had no hope or dreams for a better future, and at best, had minimal expectations of herself. She left Montrose and moved to Farmington in the late 1990’s, continuing a life style of bad choices stemming from her harsh childhood.
“It took 15 years of continuing to abuse myself to become homeless, penniless and unemployable – all consequences of years of neglect and despair, leading to a dark and dismal future,” Kishbaugh recalls. “I was almost 30 years old, had a young daughter, was addicted to drugs, and facing a life in prison or worse. I was so addicted all I could do was go from fix to fix.”
While in a 60-day treatment program for methamphetamine use, Kishbaugh was given an application to fill out to attend classes at San Juan College. She half-heartedly filled out the application thinking, “Why would they take me? No one wants me.”
That turned out to be the turning point in her life. “San Juan College gave me the chance I never believed I would get,” she recalls. “And better yet, I received grant funding to help pay for my education.
In August 2007, she enrolled at San Juan College. Kishbaugh’s first class was a general math course. “It wasn’t easy,” she says. “I had to learn the basics of how to be a student. My entire focus became restructuring my life in an effort to start over and not return to my old lifestyle.”
Currently a full-time student at San Juan College, she maintains a 3.865 GPA and hopes to graduate with two associates degrees in mechanical and civil drafting. In April, Kishbaugh was awarded with a San Juan College Student Excellence Award from the School of Trades and Technology.
Upon completion of her associate degrees from San Juan College, she plans to transfer to a four-year college and earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
“As a single mom, Brandi’s dedication to her commitments and her accomplishments are commendable,” says David Scott, San Juan College assistant professor of Drafting. “She is a strong, committed individual.”
Kishbaugh’s past is not in vain. She utilizes her experiences to serve as an example to others of how they too can find hope, pursue goals, and achieve dreams. In addition to school and family obligations, Kishbaugh visits the detention center each month and talks to inmates about overcoming destructive lifestyle choices and turning their lives around.
“I’m extremely appreciative of the help that I’ve received,” she says. “It’s only by the grace of God that I’ve been able to change. In turn, I feel it’s important to do whatever I can to make a difference and give back to the community that gave me hope.” she says.