When Ricky Farrell first traveled across Missouri to Kansas City looking at colleges, Avila University wasn’t on his radar. But an aunt who graduated from Avila suggested that, while he was in town, he ought to carve out time for a visit in south KC at 119th and Wornall.
Farrell will be forever grateful for his aunt’s advice. Quickly falling in love with the Avila campus and its highly-personable community of staff, faculty and students, Farrell today finds himself at the end of his first semester and has thoroughly embraced and enjoyed his first-year experience.
“I liked that Avila was small, and the fact that it was a Catholic-based university played a part in my decision,” Farrell said. “It’s been really good. I really like it here. It’s been a lot of work. But, the people here … everyone has been so welcoming, fun to be around and so supportive.”
Farrell’s experience begins with academics, which for him is anything but a traditional course. His lifelong love of theatre, coupled with his interest in computers, led him to seek a double major – vocal performance and computer science.
“I like performing more,” he said, “but wanted to expand my opportunities.”
Farrell’s kept quite busy at both. He landed a role in the chorus of Avila’s theatre production this fall of Young Frankenstein – “I was in about every scene,” he said - and most recently was preparing for the music department’s Madrigal Dinner, held in early December in Goppert Theatre.
In his computer science curricula, he’s concentrated on graphic design.
Farrell also is a work study in Avila’s Office of Marketing and Communication, where he helps design and update various University web sites. And, of utmost importance to him given his Catholic upbringing, he’s participated in several community service and service learning activities and is a singer in the Sunday Mass Choir.
He worked for a day at Harvesters: The Community Food Network as part of the First-Year Experience and, most recently, made a micro loan through FINCA.org, a task that dated back to Avila’s Harry S. Truman Lecture Series speaker Bob Harris, who made micro loans through KIVA.org.
“I made a $20 loan to a woman named Idah Banda in Zambia,” Farrell said. “She’s raising six children and four grandchildren and trying to put them all through school. She is ready to expand her small grocery business.
“When you help others expecting nothing in return, you get this tremendous sense of generosity and hope for the future. It teaches you about yourself. You get a sense of satisfaction knowing you’ve helped someone else.”
Paige Illum, Ph.D., coordinator of retention and the First-Year Experience, said, “The purpose of the experience is to engage our students through a global issue. Our goal is to provide the students with a meaningful academic experience while living our University mission and the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph to help our dear neighbors.
“Avila’s mission shares that we will prepare students for responsible lifelong contributions to the global community. This first-semester experience is the initial step in accomplishing this commitment to our students.”
A sense of satisfaction is something Farrell has found a lot during his short time at Avila.
“I really like it,” he said. “It’s very personal, and everybody is there to help you. You aren’t a number, you’re a person and taken into consideration.” AU
Media Contact: Bob Luder, 816.501.2434