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Spotlight: 48 and set to graduate


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Kent Warner is finally set on what he wants to be when he grows up.

The UI, who will graduate this weekend, has taken an uncommon path to his success as an engineering student.

Surrounded by the white, bare walls in his newly furnished Cedar Rapids apartment, Warner talked about his experiences in both the real world and academia. After all, he is somewhat of a seasoned veteran — Warner will be a 48-year-old graduate when he dons his cap and gown this Saturday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Cedar Rapids native has bounced around from city to city to pursue different jobs. In addition to the Hawkeye State, Warner has lived in three other states over the past three decades.

Following his high-school graduation from Cedar Rapids Washington, Warner spent some time in the Iowa City area while taking courses at Kirkwood Community College, then enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

"I needed to be in the Navy," he said. "I needed to get out and see and do. I just wasn’t of the mindset to go to school back then."

Hoping to broaden his horizons in a lifestyle outside of Iowa, Warner developed an interest for working with technology — predominantly with computers — which were still a relatively new product at the time.

After serving his four-year commitment, he worked in the technological industry and spent some time in Michigan and Arizona. At Phoenix-based BankOne, he advanced up the ranks but wasn’t satisfied with his job.

"One night lying in bed, I decided I didn’t want to [work at BankOne] anymore," he said. "I just packed up all my things, decided to go back to school, and headed back home."

His revelation couldn’t have been more beneficial — he described his last four years in the UI engineering department as "really positive."

Dina Blanc, a UI administrative assistant in the electrical-computer engineering department, said Warner’s hard work and dedication has been obvious when he comes to the engineering office for help over the last four years.

"He seems very nice," Blanc said. "Maybe a little nervous at first, like any other student, but he has done well here."

Jonathan Hull, who worked with Warner on the pair’s senior project, said he enjoyed the collaboration.

"He’s passionate about what he does," Hull said. "His coming back to school shows he has a desire and a will to learn."

For Warner, everything is sure to set in when he graduates on Saturday, as he will have officially completed his collegiate career. Next month, Warner will begin working for Rockwell-Collins as a software engineer.

"I’ve been kind of wrapping my head around this for two weeks now," he said. "People my age don’t do this, so I’m just very pleased with how it all worked out."