At some point, everyone needs help. Even decorated military veterans and high-achieving students can find themselves in a place where they need to swallow their pride and ask for assistance. Karl Dirham III knows this as well as anyone.
Karl was just 17 years old when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve. After graduating from Flathead High School, he served his country for 13 years in the War on Terror, followed by an additional four years as a police officer for the state of New Mexico. During his military service, he was deployed to the Middle East twice, earning a Bronze Star Medal for heroic actions in a combat zone.
A dedicated father and husband, Karl moved his young family back home to Kalispell in 2015, where he obtained a job at ViZn Energy Systems. It was there that he discovered his interest in the field of electronics. He enrolled in the Electronics Technician program at Flathead Valley Community College, determined to create a more secure future for his family.
Karl was working hard at his studies, earning straight A’s. He was working hard at everything else in his life, too, including his job and family responsibilities. It wasn’t long before the many demands on his time and financial resources caught up to him, and he began questioning whether it was realistic to remain in school.
“I was overwhelmed,” he said. “I finally understood why many non-traditional students, my mother included, couldn’t grasp their higher educational dreams. Something had to give. I either had to give up on myself – and in the long term fail my family, or I had to ask for help.”
Karl chose to ask for help. In May, he received a $10,000 Transformation Scholarship from the FVCC Foundation enabling him to focus his time and energy on completing the Electronics Technician program. His ultimate goal is to complete pre-engineering classes at FVCC and then transfer to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
“At FVCC, I have seen and experienced that the word ‘community’ is not an ambiguous term for a collection of disinterested people, but that it truly embodies the good will of a group of people dedicated to the success of each other,” he said. “When one of us succeeds, we all succeed.”