by Marianne Gasaway
Kyle Kern vividly remembers sitting at the Clear Lake High School Academic Excellence Banquet 14-years ago. It should have been a great night, as he and other top students in his class were celebrated before they would be embarking on new challenges and adventures. What it was, for Kyle, was frightening.
“I felt so out of place. I was near the end of high school and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I kept thinking, ‘What am I doing here?’”
Sunday, Kern will return to the Academic Excellence Banquet. This time, he knows exactly why he’s there. He plans to share a message of perseverance, patience and passion with students.
Like the majority of his classmates at the 2004 Academic Excellence Banquet, Kern ultimately decided to go to college. He chose the University of Northern Iowa, not so much for its curriculum, but because his father had once taken him there for a computer science test, which he recalls went poorly. He enrolled with the idea of becoming an English teacher, like that of his high school mentor, Tony Kockler, but then figured out the field wasn’t for him.
“I was a little bit lost and decided to quit school,” he said.
He recalls going into a Navy recruiter’s office, thinking military service might provide him with a direction for his future.
“When the recruiter got up to go to the bathroom, I left,” he said.
For a couple of years he installed satellite television systems in the Cedar Falls, Iowa area, but eventually came home to Clear Lake and joined his father, Tom, in the chimney sweeping business.
One day, while 40-feet up on a rooftop, he decided he wasn’t doing what he wanted to do with his life.
“I went home to my wife, Amy, and said ‘let’s go.’ She said, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I said video games.”