When Duncan Farquhar came to Ohio University in 2018, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to major in, so he entered as an undecided student in University College. By the end of his first semester at OHIO he had declared his major in information and telecommunications systems in the Scripps College of Communication. His area of concentration is project management, and he is also earning a minor in business. Next spring he’ll graduate ready to enter the work force with a resume full of practical experience thanks to his work as a student employee with OHIO’s Office of Information Technology and three internships.
Farquhar, who comes from Marietta, Georgia, hadn’t even heard of Ohio University until he learned that several friends from his drum and bugle corps had been accepted at OHIO. He came to visit in the spring of his senior year, thought the campus was beautiful, and quickly decided that OHIO was the place for him. He wasn’t immediately accepted into OHIO, but was admitted into the Transition Success Program, which was a collaboration between Undergraduate Admissions and University College that provided a limited number of first-year students an opportunity to earn full enrollment at the University and access resources and academic support to help them succeed in college.
Starting off undecided in University College gave him time to think about his experience and skills, talk with students and faculty in the programs that interested him, and complete some of his required courses, according to Farquhar. “University College was helpful with giving you time to breathe,” Farquhar said. “It was a great opportunity to explore.”
Right from the start, Faquhar found professors who made an impact. “I really liked my freshman English class with Dr. (Rachael) Ryerson,” Farquhar said. “It made me a better writer and Dr. Ryerson was an amazing professor.” The Intro to Computer Science class taught by Dr. Nasseef Abukamail, was also one of Farquhar’s favorite classes, one where he learned how to solve problems.
Farquhar decided to follow his interest in computers when he declared his major, but he was able to continue his involvement with bands as a member of the Marching 110. He said he has not only benefited from having a built-in social network in the form of the marching band, but he also got connected with the employer who hired him for his first internship through a friend in the band. He then met and interviewed with a representative from Marathon Petroleum Corporation and ended up moving to Louisiana where he spent the spring of his sophomore year working full-time as an IT infrastructure engineering intern.
He completed a second internship with Marathon remotely supporting a refinery in Canton, Ohio. “These two experiences were amazing and helped propel me much farther in my technical and professional knowledge,” said Farquhar. This summer he will work with Progressive Insurance as an IT systems engineering intern.
Coursework and internships are not the only learning opportunities that have contributed to Farquhar’s education at OHIO. He has also learned and grown through student employment with Ohio University’s Office of Information Technology. He was hired as a service desk associate his first year at OHIO, has supported customers at the Bobcat Depot, and now serves as a support technician.
Farquhar has faced and overcome the challenge of transitioning from high school to college and the different expectations and demands of being a college student. “When I got to college I really didn’t know how to study or how to use my time,” he said, explaining that he quickly realized he would have to learn how to study and manage his time better than he had in high school. He noted that learning how to stay focused and motivated, and learning how to set and work toward goals, especially as a student with ADHD, has been a challenge. He learned some tips and tricks that have helped him. Advice he shares with other students includes physically writing notes, since that helps with learning new material; using a paper agenda or calendar; utilizing the library; getting involved; and exploring new things.
As Farquhar approaches his final year at OHIO he advises other students not to be scared to be undecided. “I find myself constantly thinking back to my freshman year and my development since high school,” he said. “I distinctly remember my days in the transition success program and the people involved with that program.”
From the moment he became a Bobcat Farquhar has been learning, applying knowledge, and making connections that will serve him well. One of his current classes, Information Technology Systems for Social Good taught by Julio Arauz, has inspired Farquhar to think about public service and the possibility of jobs in government. After graduating next year he hopes to work as an IT systems engineer.