“You should be able to work at something you love, and when you get opportunities – take them and run.”


Colby Purcell            

Muse and DCCCD STEM Institute Scholar
Eastfield College

Music teacher to aerospace engineer?
Colby Purcell believes it’s well within reach.

This mother of four has already been encouraged in her career change with the Muse scholarship and the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) student support award.

“I always loved both music and math,” Colby says. “In high school, I studied piano – but also physics and advanced math. I made the choice to go into music, because I wanted to have a family and stay home with my children when they were little.”

Colby earned a bachelor’s degree in music, married and had a family – four children now ages 4 to 14. She has served as music coordinator for a group of church congregations, as well as volunteer accompanist for numerous choirs and school groups.

“I had always wanted to be an engineer,” Colby says, “and one day my husband, who’s also an engineer, said, ‘Why don’t you just go for it?’” And she did.

A 2011-2012 Muse scholar, she has also been a DCCCD STEM Insitute scholar for the last two years. Last spring, she participated in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

After she earns an associate degree in engineering at Eastfield College, she plans to continue her engineering education, with her dream career to become an aerospace engineer.

“With my scholarships, of course the tuition money helps with four kids,” she says. “But what I like most are the opportunities I’ve gotten. You should be able to work at something you love, and when you get opportunities – take them and run.”

She is also sure she can apply the leadership skills she’s learned as a mother and music teacher to whatever comes next. “One of the great virtues of a leader is the ability to listen to others,” she says. “The greatest thing that I have learned is that a true leader serves the people that he or she leads.”

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