Tyler Gillson –
Hardworking. Conflicted. Serious. Gracious. Transfer. Undergraduate. President. These words are just a few that have described Barbara Farley at in her life. It is hard to believe that someone like Barbara Farley was at one time wondering what her life would be like, when she graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 1981, but she was. She didn’t always have a set plan about life after college, but she had advice to live by from a former professor, “Follow your dreams and passions in your careers and life, and do not limit your choices.”
Farley started off her college career like most of us do: applying and searching through her options. She decided on Indiana University in Bloomington, with a possible French major, because at the time she wanted to get away from home and she thought, “I could see myself here”. Although as she recalls this now, she says “My seventeen year old attitude was, ‘it’s probably really great for me to go to school far away from the Twin Cities’. I don’t think it was a very intelligent decision-making process.” She stayed at IU for only a year before realizing that a smaller school would be best for her.
Farley transferred to The College of Saint Benedict, which had a brother school, Saint John’s University. Both are small schools in a rural community in Minnesota, closer to home for Farley. She knew the schools because her older brother attended Saint John’s. “I found it very hard to be a transfer student at Saint John’s and Saint Benedict. A lot of groups had formed in their first year.” She was very focused in her academics and tried to get to know people who were around her, which can be hard sometimes. Luckily Farley’s older brother was in residential life at Saint John’s, and he was able to help her make connections with people from Saint John’s and in turn Saint Benedict.
Farley thought she wanted to study French and accounting, though after taking some accounting classes her sophomore year, she decided to lean towards French and possibly international business or management. She went to a professor in the business department and asked him to help her get some perspective on what she could do. She talked with the business professor for a while, and by the end of the conversation she had decided she wanted to study abroad in France and pursue a French major with a business minor.
Studying abroad was very common at Saint Benedict and Saint John’s and many students often went to the same place, led by a faculty member for a semester. One group came together the spring of her sophomore year and they started the make the arrangements to study in France. Tom Driscoll, another student who studied abroad, recalls his impression of Farley, saying, “She was one of those students that you love to hate because she was setting curves. She’s been setting curves all her life. The one in class that you hate because they are always getting the wonderful grades, but you love them because they are fun people to spend time with.”
“I don’t think my college search is anything to write home about, which is why I’m so passionate about it now. I think it is so important to think about the kind of place where you want to be and the kind of things that you want to do whenever you are there.” Barbara Farley didn’t always know where she wanted to go to college, she didn’t always know what she wanted to major in, and even after she thought she knew, she changed her mind again. It is not uncommon to not know. It is not uncommon to be anxious about the future. Something that Farley has never forgotten is the wisdom from a professor that has helped her be where she is today. “Follow your dreams and your passions in your careers and in life, and do not limit your choices.” These words truly had a big impact on Farley and many of her classmates, and it has helped her mold herself and change into the type of person that she wants to be, and she wants to inspire everyone she touches to do the same.