Making the most of every opportunity

Teddy Farias served as the keynote speaker during the opening ceremonies of this year’s Missouri Scholars Academy.

Teddy Farias
Teddy Farias speaks to Missouri Scholars Academy students. Logan Jackson / University of Missouri.

July 2, 2024

Standing in the Walmart checkout line just an hour after earning his biological sciences degree from the University of Missouri, Teddy Farias – who was still wearing his cap and gown – struck up a conversation with the person in line behind him. Farias was gearing up for the next step in his academic journey. He had been accepted into a pharmacy school in Chicago and was preparing to make the move.

Farias would put his plans on hold, though. The checkout line conversation led to a job offer, which Farias was happy to accept. He spent the next year as a technical scientist, running a variety of experiments for analytical and biochemical laboratories.

Throughout his childhood, Farias found fulfillment from learning environments that challenged his thinking and allowed him to ask meaningful questions. That passion for education grew tremendously during his three weeks at the Missouri Scholars Academy (MSA). He was one of two students from his rural high school in St. Clair chosen for the academy.

Not only did MSA introduce Farias to peers who were just as motivated to learn as he was, the experience showed him that he could be successful as a college student.

As a first-generation college student, Farias said he enjoyed the college experience but there was definitely a learning curve.

“Coming from rural Missouri, college was the first time I met people who had completely different experiences than I had had,” Farias said. “I was a responsible kid, but I still had a lot of maturing to do. Being on my own and having to be on top of paying bills or cooking dinner wasn’t new for me. Social maturity was where I grew the most.”

It helped that he already knew a few professors, such as Ted Tarkow, a professor emeritus of classical studies, who Farias met during MSA. Tarkow helped found the academy.

Farias eventually earned his Doctor of Chiropractic from Logan University and spent eight years running his own practice. He also served as adjunct faculty at St. Louis Community College, served as a department chair at Kaplan University and is now dean of health and natural sciences at San Jacinto College in Texas.

Farias was able to share his passion for higher education, as well as his chiropractic work, with scholars during last year’s academy. It marked the first time he had been back to Columbia in years, and he said it was incredible to be back on campus. Farias was invited back to MSA this year, not only to share about his work but also to kick off the academy as the keynote speaker.

“These past two opportunities to interact with scholars at MSA have been incredible,” Farias said. “I was so glad to be asked to participate last year and was blown away to be asked back as the keynote speaker. It’s been great to give back to a place that holds some many special memories. Mizzou and MSA will always be tied for me. Both opened so many doors for me to succeed.” 

Read more from the Missouri Scholars Academy

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