Friday, August 7, 2009

DDP student forges ahead

Kristopher Skelton is two kinds of smith: blacksmith and wordsmith.
His interest in the first type of smithing began when he was given a pocketknife as a child. “I remember being amazed that the tool I held in my hand had once been rocks in the ground,” the Distance Degree Programs student writes on his Web site, alchemyforge.net. “It was several years before I realized that people still made things from steel with fire and hammer.”
He wanted to build a forge, but his mother was afraid he’d burn down the house. It wasn’t until 2002 that he mixed fire and metal, creating a hook with a handle. “My wife still uses it for lifting our Dutch oven off the campfire,” he said.
More...Skelton, 31, is a member of the Northwest Blacksmith Association, and his work was a jury selection at the Lynnwood Arts Council’s 2004 “Seeing Red” exhibit. Two years later, his Web site says, he was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, which proves he definitely has fabrication talents. Those creative skills come in handy on his five blogs, including one dedicated to tough guys with facial hair. (Skelton’s own moustache seems designed for twirling.)
Skelton’s creative side finds little outlet in his regular job, which involves calling insurance companies to appeal medical claim denials. “It’s just as intellectually stimulating as it sounds,” he said. His DDP studies offer more of a challenge. The Lynnwood, Washington, resident is majoring in humanities, has a minor in history and is earning a professional writing certificate.
Skelton completed his associate’s degree at Shoreline Community College in 1998. “It nagged at me that I didn’t finish, especially when I looked for a new job and all the listings required at least a B.A.” He joined DDP in January 2008 because the online program fit both his schedule and his biorhythms: “I find my brain is most active in the evenings.”
That synaptic activity impresses DDP academic advisor Chrisi Kincaid. “Kris is an amazing student,” she said. “With his love of writing and history, and his engaging manner, he’d be an excellent teacher.”
Will the wordsmith and blacksmith become a mindsmith too? For the moment, Skelton is sticking to one of his two current smithing interests.
“I’ll pursue a master’s in public history so I can be a blacksmith at a living history museum,” he said. “Or I’ll become a writer/editor for a videogame or role-playing game company.”

- Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education


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