|He talked with me like he had known me for years and asked what I was wanting to accomplish.|
There are certain realities in higher education. One is that occasionally plans or priorities change and some students take a break, sometimes for an extended amount of time. Another is that occasionally plans or priorities change and some students return to finish what they started. Such was the case for Brandon Schindel, who graduated from Central Community College-Columbus with an agribusiness degree.
Schindel originally enrolled at CCC to earn the necessary credentials to operate a farm. However, he also was trying to raise a family and needed to work as much as possible to make ends meet.
"It had gotten to the point where school was not a priority to me and I was not applying myself like I needed to," said Schindel. "I decided to return to CCC to finish my agribusiness degree to better myself for my family and to have a source of pride."
At that point, Schindel had been away from CCC for five years working a few different jobs, but he still focused on one day running a farm. In July 2015, he returned to the Columbus Campus to find out what it would take to return to school after such a lengthy time away. Schindel was introduced to agriculture instructor Wade Hilker, who had an immediate influence on Schindel.
"I had never met or even heard of him prior to that day but his personality struck me unbelievably," said Schindel. "He talked with me like he had known me for years and asked what I was wanting to accomplish. I told him and he was optimistic that I could do it from that day."
In addition to Hilker, Schindel says the admissions office and everyone else involved with his return to CCC was both helpful and encouraging that he would be successful in accomplishing his goals.
"Even the bookstore staff was very helpful in helping me find books for my online classes," said Schindel. "It made returning to CCC a great experience, and I recommend CCC to my family and friends."
Once back in classes, Schindel continued to be impressed with Hilker, particularly in how he made class fun and interesting each day.
"His personality can put a smile on anyone's face," said Schindel. "He could make the material easy to understand and relevant to the agricultural field. Wade never made anyone feel like they asked a stupid question."
Schindel graduated in May 2016 and recently began to manage his grandparents' cow/calf operation, which he maintains he would have been unable to do without the knowledge and experience that his agribusiness degree afforded him. When asked if he had any regrets about his five-year hiatus from CCC, Schindel said he doesn't because working during that time made him realize just how important completing his degree was to him and his family.
"Coming back to CCC was one of the best decisions I have ever made because I got another chance to better apply myself in order to complete my degree," said Schindel. "The people I met and the experiences I had were beyond my expectations."
Although Schindel's days at CCC are complete, it has not marked the end of the Hilker's impact as Schindel continues to keep in contact with Hilker.
"I have contacted him multiple times regarding any questions I have had with my cow/calf operation and he has been more than helpful," said Schindel. "He has gone above and beyond to help me in any way he could, not only with my schooling but in everyday life. This is why he is one of my biggest role models."