Citing his passion for education and strong desire to help others, Nicolet College has selected Zach Farris as the Student Ambassador for 2017-18.
“Being named Student Ambassador is the highest honor the college gives a student,” said Nicolet Director of Student Success Christin Van Kauwenberg. “Zach is very deserving of the honor and will do a great job representing Nicolet in the upcoming academic year.”
Students are first nominated by Nicolet staff and then selected for the position after going through an interview process.
“This came totally out of the blue and I was shocked when I heard I was selected,” said Farris, who is studying Early Childhood Education. “That three staff members nominated me made me realize that more people had faith in me than maybe I even had in myself. It’s truly humbling.”
A veteran of the United State Navy, Farris spent five years serving his country before leaving the military and deciding he wanted a college education.
His first venture was at a four-year campus.
“I thought it was going to work but it just wasn’t right for me,” he said. “It wasn’t the right fit.”
Then he enrolled at Nicolet.
“It’s been just incredible,” explained Farris, who lives in Minocqua. “I should have (come) here first. Nicolet has more of a close-knit family atmosphere. The instructors have been more available than I ever would have imagined. You develop relationships with them, and that makes you want to do better in classes. They’ve invested in me. It’s like you can’t let them down.”
As for enrolling in the Early Childhood Education program – not a common choice for military veterans – the decision came after he volunteered at a local childcare center.
He didn’t know it at the time, but a couple of students he was working with had a history of being closed off and didn’t talk much. He later ran into the center director after he was done volunteering and she relayed to him how much the two children really came out of their shell and engaged much more with others after his time there.
It was a “wow” moment for Farris.
“It made me realize that I had an impact on these children in a way I wouldn’t have imagined. It made me realize I may have a purpose here. How can I affect lives in a positive way?”
In the nomination for Student Ambassador, Nicolet staff members cited his natural inclination to encourage “the success and growth of others.”
“Zach exemplifies integrity in his actions,” they wrote “He is a skilled listener who actively seeks the perspective of others. He is always trying to understand the world around him and improve the lives of others.”
After Nicolet, he plans to continue his education to earn a bachelor’s degree and potentially a master’s.
“I really enjoy teaching and being around that light of learning. It fills me up,” Farris said.