A father and a Boilermaker: Zach Arman talks Purdue Polytechnic in Lafayette experience

Zach Arman at Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. (Photo provided/SIA)

In 2016, Zach Arman took on an incredibly difficult challenge: attending university nine years after his high school graduation.

A thirty five year-old father of three with a full-time position at Subaru of Indiana Automotive in Lafayette, Zach isn’t the typical undergraduate student. His life is a constant balancing act between his personal, professional, and academic responsibilities, mirroring the lives of many among the 8 million adult students across the US. But he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now, as he prepares to walk across the graduation stage with a multidisciplinary studies degree and a promotion at Subaru, Arman spoke to us about how Purdue Polytechnic in Lafayette made it possible.

Arman grew up in small-town Indiana as the son of a single father. In his words, a college education was “never in the cards” financially. Entering the workforce immediately after high school, Zach still held onto the aspiration of attending college.

“Growing up in Lafayette, there’s always that dream to go to Purdue University,” Arman remarked in our interview. At 27, he began a full-time position at the Subaru manufacturing plant in Lafayette and discovered Purdue Polytechnic’s on-site campus during orientation. Designed with working adults in mind, Purdue Polytechnic Lafayette provides full financial support for students who maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average.

“When I found out, I ran to sign up,” he reflected, laughing. Through the multidisciplinary studies degree path, his childhood dream of a Purdue education was suddenly a tangible reality.

What do multidisciplinary studies entail? To Arman and his colleagues, it means opening doors to a wide range of opportunities by developing specialized skills that can be applied directly to the job site. “It’s a hybrid degree,” he explained. “You get to decide what your focus in your degree will be.”

Zach is now trained in fields like organizational leadership, engineering, and logistics, which prepared him for his recent promotion to a group lead at Subaru. “Managers recognize that what you’re learning will translate correctly to whatever the task is,” Arman said.

With new tools under his belt, it’s easier to be confident in the workplace. Although his promotion came with many new responsibilities, Arman felt ready to take it on. “I love the new obstacles,” he said when I asked about his favorite part of the job. “I don’t know what I would do without the chaos.” And he has more than enough chaos to keep him satisfied.

Every day, Arman wakes up a 4 a.m. to get his youngest children to daycare, takes a short nap, and heads to work at 3:30 p.m. until he clocks out at (sometimes) 3 a.m. Yet Arman still finds time to carve out at least an hour daily for classes.

The Lafayette campus offers both in-person and online courses for students with children, an option he took up after his youngest was born. Zach attributes his success through the chaos to the incredible support he has received from his professors, co-workers, and family. After having thoughts about switching out of his degree to complete a certificate, one of his professors pushed him to reconsider his decision. “There are difficulties when it comes to time management, but the faculty there are great at working with you to reach your potential,” Arman said. “You have to remember your goals.”

For Arman, setting an example for his 13 year-old son gets him through his roughest moments. Despite taking several classes on top of everything else, Zach ended last semester with a 4.0.

Arman's advice for others beginning the same journey? “Get uncomfortable. When you’re uncomfortable, you grow. Take one class and get your feet wet.” Although he will be graduating in May, he is already looking ahead to the future. He plans to keep searching for that chaos by moving up the ladder at Subaru. “The sky is the limit,” he said with a smile. “I don’t like to put a cap on a goal. You always have to ask: what’s next?”

Watch this space in the coming weeks for an in-depth video interview with Arman. In the meantime, here is a preview of our interview:




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