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Alumni Spotlight: Kirk Long

By: Yelena Margarette

Kirk Long, Class of 2015, teaching at the University of Colorado at Boulder

Kirk Long, an MMACHS alumni, is striving for the astronomical horizons as he journeys through the hardships and obstacles of a school with rigorous curriculums such as MMACHS, to working with the intergalactically-fascinating world of astrophysics.  


Successive to graduating from MMACHS in 2015, Kirk Long unfolds what his post-education life is like now, and how his education from MMACHS granted him with benefiting outcomes. 

 

After graduating in 2020 with a major in physics at Boise State University, Kirk is currently 4 years in of working on a PhD in astrophysics at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research is truly “out-of-this world”, and he has granted his knowledge to teachings of his own. He taught an undergraduate class of 120 students on a study of black holes, was a physics tutor, taught and instructed undergraduate physics and astronomy labs, and many more. Kirk had been involved with volunteering by bringing in physics and coding teachings in the GED at the Idaho and Colorado Departments of Corrections.  


Along with the plenty of other accomplishments attained, Kirk’s post-academic pursuits reveal the personal and life benefiting outcomes MMACHS had given him.  


Kirk had found MMACHS to be a positive learning environment as teachers and students were big factors in motivation and caring for each other's success. After spending 4 years at MMACHS, Kirk reflects on the well-enlightened curriculum for college readiness that MMACHS had given him, including the skills he found conducive for his further education life: 


“They did a great job with helping me with grit, determination, diligence, those types of things. I also felt like because of the small class and teacher sizes, it really gives you a strong sense of integrity. Those are the kind of core things that I walked away with at the end of high school,” he disclosed. “I think a lot of leadership skills that I developed, and a lot of the communication skills became as a direct result of the stuff I did at MMACHS and that was uniquely suited to MMACHS. I don’t think I could do that at another high school.” 


Kirk found that many of his teachers guided him well and prepared him for his post-education life. He created good relationships with most of the teachers and staff and to this day, he still looks up to them. A teacher that Kirk looked up to substantially and had a close relationship with, however, was MMACHS’ current government and psych teacher, Mr. Kinnaman. 


Mr. Kinnaman ruminates the light Kirk had shined when he attended MMACHS and how he was a student that stood out to him: 


 “He is a good student because he performed well. His work was excellent. What makes Kirk an outstanding individual is his curiosity. He liked to know stuff, he was curious, and he discovered many things which made him a really good learner” Kinnaman explains. “Sometimes he had opinions about learning and the way it should be done, which made him kind of a headache for the teachers.” 


Some of his favorite memories he made at MMACHS was joining HOSA. He was quite involved as he was his school’s and state’s HOSA president. He also had the privilege to present the senior speech, which was also a fond memory for him. “It was just the sense of community” Kirk said. “I just had a lot of great moments. Lot of great times.” 


As Kirk had experienced the completed years of attending MMACHS, he now has a strong understanding of the school. Kirk explains how if he had the ability to go back, there would be some things he would do differently: 


“I would try a little less hard. When I was in high school, I would say I took my life really, really seriously. And it is only as I have gotten a bit older have I taken my life less seriously and regained some of my youth in a sense. I feel like I was trying to study all the time, do all the things because I needed to have the best resume to get into the best college, but I really think that most of those things didn’t really matter that much, or at least as much as I told myself.” 


Kirk agrees that the experience was well-preparing for him and worth the years, and he also agrees that if it had not been for MMACHS, he would not be on the same pathway he is today. Kirk’s advice for all students who are currently attending MMACHS:  


“Keep your mind open. I think it’s good to have a plan, which I think everyone at MMACHS probably does, but then the best thing you can do after you have a plan is to be open to changing your plan. Keeping your mind open to new concepts and new ideas is the best thing you can do for your life.” 

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