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In 1991, Brandon Kitchen, the recipient of a Connestee Falls scholarship that year, graduated from Brevard High School without a clue as to what he wanted to do with his life. What he did know was that he had watched his father work at Ecusta for years and that after the plant closed, his father worked, attended Blue Ridge Community College at night, and was still a full-time husband and father. Brandon felt as though “that was way harder” than he wanted to work.

Using his Connestee Falls scholarship, Brandon attended Brevard College for two years, an experience he found very helpful. As He explained, “Having some time at a small college was really valuable. It gave me some time to mature.” After those two years, Brandon felt ready to transfer to NC State where he continued his major in computer science.

After graduating from NC State – the first member of his family to complete four years of college - Brandon pursued his interest in computers and technology. Starting in 2000, he became the technical lead of a team of administrators for Sourcealliance LLC in Morrisville, NC, responsible for all their computer and network operations. By the following year, Brandon was a Senior Systems Analyst for Alcatel USA in Raleigh. After a few years Brandon embarked upon a solo technical career, founding a company with some partners. Through mergers and acquisitions, this company is now called Layer27, which provides data center services and consulting for Fortune 500 companies. Brandon also founded a real estate business called WNC Home Selling Team LLC, a local real estate firm focused on the WNC home market.

Shortly after graduating from college, Brandon married his high school sweetheart, Brook Burrell Kitchen, a nurse who got her BSN from UNC Chapel Hill and her MBA from Pfeiffer University. They lived in Raleigh for twenty years before returning to Western North Carolina with their seven year old fraternal twins, Hunter and Leah. Tragically, Brook died of sepsis in 2016. Brandon credits friends and family members with helping him and his children get through this painful time.

Brandon wants all the donors to the Connestee Falls Student Scholarship Program, as well as the volunteers and participants in the program’s fundraising events, to know that the scholarships have an enormous impact on the lives of the students who receive them. He added, “I wouldn’t be sitting here if I hadn’t gotten that scholarship.”

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