Why this NASA Engineer Came Back to CNM

Rick Clark is a software engineer, but wanted to finish the college degree he started 20 years ago
December 12, 2023

Rick Clark hadn’t paid much attention to coding until one day a friend showed him the script for a baseball analytics program. The ability to put an enormous amount of information into something so well organized and easy to understand left an impression.

From that point on he was all in. He found a web programming job, developed his skills, and eventually landed his current job as a software engineer for NASA. 

But one thing always nagged at Rick. He’d never completed his degree so he recently enrolled at CNM, and is now just one term away from reaching his goal.

“I’ve wanted to finish my degree for a while now, but I struggled in school the first time around and I wasn’t sure it would work out if I went back,” Rick says. “CNM has been terrific every step of the way and has made it easy for me to not just complete my courses, but thrive as a student.”

Because of a demanding work schedule, Rick is working on his Web Programming associate degree through CNM’s Attend Anywhere program. These courses allow students to attend class in-person, via video-conferencing, or by watching the recorded lectures depending on their schedule from week to week. 

“The only way I have been able to go to school is because of the Attend Anywhere classes,” Rick says. “I travel quite often for work, and being able to attend class and complete tests in the format that works best for me on any given week has been a lifesaver.”

Along with his coursework, job, and family responsibilities, Rick is also the current president of the “Coffee Into Coders” student club. 

Coffee Into Coders connects students from across disciplines in a fun and engaging environment and helps them learn about internet technologies. During his time as president, Rick has used his industry experience and connections to bring in various guest speakers to share their work and career tips and tricks. 

“We’ve had all kinds of amazing guest speakers come to our meetings,” Rick says. “One of my friends from NASA, who’s blind, came to talk about the importance of web accessibility. The marketing manager for Trek Bicycles came and shared a list of over 100 tips ranging from keyboard shortcuts to Linux code. We also heard from the CNM scholarship office and learned how to navigate the scholarship portal. There’s something for everyone at our meetings.”

As he gets ready to graduate in the spring, Rick is looking forward to spending more time with his family and riding his motorcycle. He also wants to encourage other adult learners to give CNM a try.

“When I first enrolled, I didn’t know if I would fit in and I worried it would be similar to my first college experience,” he explains. “From the get-go, CNM was warm and welcoming and I saw a lot of people just like me. I have so enjoyed my time here, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this community.”