Some of the people we mistake for faculty as we wander the Conestoga College campuses are students overcoming fears and challenges that making big changes in life can bring.
Timothy Farrell, 51, is currently taking another attempt at college and it’s working well for him. His first attempt in 2004 was at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ont., but he found he was too far away from his support base.
“Basically, after every class I’d go to the campus pub and support myself that way,” Farrell said. “I decided to go back to employment to supplement my income.”
Farrell’s time at Conestoga College has been far more successful and he is well on his way to finishing the broadcast radio program. He has already done some work as a DJ but he feels getting some accreditation is necessary.
“Right now, especially here in Canada, the radio industry is looking for people with education under their belt,” he said.
Although he’s in his 50s already, Farrell does not mind finding a small market when he is done his program and working his way up. He’s thinking somewhere like Yellowknife would be fine with him.
One thing which has been a challenge for Farrell is the amount of computer literacy needed. He said he is a late bloomer when it comes to the internet.
“These young kids are just – boom – done. I’m like – OK, how do you turn the computer on?” he said.
He appreciates his younger classmates who have taken time to help him out.
Farrell thinks his years of experience being a DJ at nightclubs and events have been an important education.
“I know the ins and outs,” he said. “I know what to say, how to say it and when to say it.”
It’s a love for music, especially seventies music, that drives Farrell.
“I’m not in it for the money,” he said. “I’m in it for the passion. Don’t let the age factor get at you. It did to me and then I started talking to other announcers who … said age has no restriction in radio. They don’t see what you look like so whatever you do, don’t give up — even if you are in your 50s, pursue it.”
At 41, Bob Seifried has returned to school after an accident put an end to his job working in infrastructure, asphalt and construction.
“What happened was I had a big fall over a stabilizing arm of a backhoe,” Seifried said. “I did a full flip and landed on my right elbow, having multiple fractures of the ulna and radius.”
Through two surgeries and extensive rehab, he has about 60 per cent range of motion in his right arm and reduced strength as well, so he can’t do the heavy lifting his job required.
Through WSIB’s work transition program, he had an in-depth vocational assessment – the result, radio broadcaster.
“Apparently that is the first time that has ever popped up for somebody in the WSIB system,” Seifried said. “So they didn’t want me to go through for that.”
But when Seifried heard that option, he knew somehow, some way he was going to make them accept the result.
“I’m kind of a trailblazer because it has never happened before,” he said. “I put together a half hour Powerpoint presentation for the WSIB board of directors … I did the presentation first for my work transition specialist and she said I had to do it in front of the board.”
Two days later, he received the news he was going to Conestoga College for radio broadcasting.
“Now when I sit in front of the microphone in the studio, I don’t feel any pressure at all, because of that ultimate pressure I had to go through just to get started,” Seifried said. “I feel blessed to be here. I’m on cloud nine every day coming in.”
Seifried encourages people who might be nervous about making a change in their life to consider going to college.
“It’s never too late to change,” he said. “It’s never too late to start something new. If you are not happy in your life or if there is something you always wanted to study or learn … everybody fears change a little bit … humans are creatures of habit and sometimes we get stuck in a rut … that might be comfortable, maybe we have enough money to live, but I know a lot of people who have enough money to live but are miserable every day of their life … I think there is a whole other world out there for anybody, as long as they put their nose to the grindstone, focus, work hard and be positive. You can change your life into anything you want it to be.”