Although he’s too much of a gentleman to say it, Brian Farren probably scoffs at the notion of being “too busy” to return to school.
After all, this is the man who has a full-time job as an operations manager at FedEX and helps run the successful downtown eatery that bears his name while constantly taking classes and raising a family. The 2015 Parkland graduate will complete his bachelor’s degree at Eastern Illinois University in May 2017 (Organizational and Professional Development) and is now contemplating grad school in addition to earning both personal fitness and life coaching certificates.
Brian recently took time for some Q&A with me about life as an adult learner:
How involved in Farren’s pub are you?
A: We have had Farren’s for a little over 16 years. My involvement comes and goes as needed. Day-to-day, I would say I am hardly involved at all; my wife deserves the lion’s share of the success we have had with that venture. We first met while employed at the same restaurant, so we are both capable, but hospitality is definitely her calling. I would consider myself the best pinch hitter she has. I am working an event for her this weekend because she will be out of town with our kids.
How has the Adult Re-entry Center helped you accomplish your academic goals?
A: I returned to school at Parkland College in August 2013. I first contacted Billie Mitchell, who was the director of the Adult Re-entry Center at the time. She listened to my goals and, using my transcripts from previous credits earned, helped me tailor a course of study to accomplish them. My journey was then handed to Tony Hooker, who finished what Billie had started. Tony was encouraging and helpful while I completed my studies at Parkland and always made himself available to answer my questions.
What advice would you give to prospective adult learners?
A: Get in and get started as soon as possible. Start slowly in order to reacquaint yourself with the learning environment, but don’t wait. The sooner you start, the sooner you will finish. Do not let the fact that you may be older than some of the other students bother you. You can be a great resource to them and you have the opportunity to bring maturity to the classroom that few others can provide. Adult life brings distractions that were not there in younger years, so keep your attention on your priorities and stay calm. Don’t try to do too much; you will finish if you stay focused.
Is there anything you would like to add?
A: I never thought I would have the desire to return to school, but as I near the end, I am glad that I decided to complete my education. The job market continually gets more competitive. Completing your education can provide what is needed to take advantage of future opportunities. I am grateful that I found the Adult Re-entry program at Parkland and that I took advantage of such a great local resource.