Class of 1984 - Advocate for Animals

Submitted by JoAnne Breault, MA
Classes of 1984 and 2012 

Kathryn Salmon’s most memorable experience at Bristol was graduating. On a warm sunny day in June of 1984, she remembered how proud she felt as she sauntered across the stage to receive her diploma. “I didn’t attend my high school graduation,” Kathy said. “Walking down the aisle to receive my college diploma felt like I really accomplished something.”  

As a child, she struggled with dyslexia, a reading disability. The graduation ceremony symbolized a personal milestone of overcoming her disability. “I remember my mother taking the time to read my assignments so that we could discuss it afterwards,” noted Kathy. “It wasn’t until I attended Bristol that I really figured out how to teach myself how to learn.” 

Alumni Spotlight_Kathryn Salmon 2019_IP ImageShe is grateful to her mother Jean who put her children’s education first and served as a role model. “My mother raised six children alone and ran a successful business.” Kathy also worked at Graham’s Hotdogs, a favorite eatery in the Columbus Park neighborhood. Working at the family business while attending Bristol helped fund her education and taught her good organizational and time management skills.  

Attending Bristol was a family affair. Five out of six children in her family attended at the Elsbree Street campus. Her oldest brother, John Seidl, graduated with a full scholarship to Amherst College. Economically, it was the right decision for a large family. “Attending Bristol gave me the opportunity to figure out what I really wanted to do without spending a lot of money,” said Kathy. “There was a real value to obtaining my associate degree in computer programming from Bristol Community College.” 

Kathy was “intrigued” with computers and felt she was in the right place at the right time when the technological revolution exploded in the early 80s. In 1982, Time Magazine bestowed the personal computer with the “Man of the Year” award. This was the first time that a non-human was recognized as the machine of the year since the magazine was launched in 1927. This symbolized the significance of the computer and its impact on society. “Bristol was teaching cutting edge technology,” stated Kathy. “It was an exciting time to take computer science courses while Steve Jobs and Apple computers were infiltrating the world.” 

Computer science can be intimidating but instructors such as Ralph Sanford and Priscilla Grocer encouraged her academically and put her at ease. “Priscilla made herself accessible to her students by providing extra lab time and personalized help,” said Kathy. “There were great teachers in the computer science program.”   

In the ’80s companies were seeking graduates with strong computer skills for data entry and problem solving. Before graduating, she already had a job lined up with Anderson Little, a national clothing manufacturer. “Bristol prepared me to work professionally because I left with marketable skills,” said Kathy. “Thanks to Bristol, I can take any new software and teach myself how to use it effectively.” 

Kathy also transferred to SMU, now known as UMass Dartmouth. She graduated with a bachelor’s in marketing in 1987 and later obtained a certificate in graphic and web design from Clark University. With the combination of her computer science and marketing degrees, she successfully worked in several fields as a marketing and management professional.

Strong computer skills are applicable across all professions and Bristol provided her with the flexibility to delve into a variety of different careers. She now works for Keller Williams as a real estate agent and architectural photographer which generates photos for real estate. As an entrepreneur, she launched “It’z a Dog’s Life”, a mobile animal massage and reiki service, and her own photography business.

As a professional photographer, she specializes in portraits with people and their pets. She has donated many of her fine art photographs to animal shelters for auctions and fund raisers. “My real love is animals,” touted Kathy. One project that she is very proud of is a photo calendar she produced at a nursing home which showcases seniors bonding with animals. The proceeds from the sales benefited Forever Paws, Aruba Dog Rescue, Friends of Alley Cats, and the Warren Animal Shelter. She stages photo shoots at Forever Paws each week and is committed to helping the “fur babies” to find their forever home.

Photography is her vocation and animal welfare is her avocation. An expression of caring and compassion emanated from her velvety green eyes as she talked about fostering and adopting several homeless pets. “My calling in life is to help animals and give our gentlest creatures a voice,” she said. “Animals come first.”  To date, she has adopted two cats and two dogs from local shelters.

Kathy’s advice it to follow your passion. She was grateful for the opportunity to attend Bristol and felt it was a great experience. “If I had the chance to do it all over again, Bristol would still be in my plans.”