What It’s Like to Take a 10-Year Sabbatical from School: Brandon Torres

Brandon holding the Dominican Republic flag in front of Bunce hall.

Today, Brandon Torres gives us a first-person perspective on his journey leading up to how he ended up taking a 10-year sabbatical from school and becoming a Rowan student. Brandon is a senior Public Relations and Advertising major.

Brandon standing at the Rowan arch.

Just like many of you, I aspired to be a great student at one time or another. However, unknown to me I had a learning disability. I struggled through high school and don’t reflect fondly on those days because the struggle was real.

After graduation, I decided to give college a try, but I would later find out the whole college experience was also not for me. I thought going into college you would be learning about a career field and some hands-on experience.

At the time, I was very big into all things technology from dissembling and resembling computers to software design/development and internet security. So, in alignment with that endeavor I decided to take up computer science for college only to find out that I wouldn’t be doing anything computer related until years three and four. A little disappointed and broke at the same time, I couldn’t stand the thought of doing more history lessons of western civilization which have NOTHING to do with computer science and software development. So, I dropped out after a year and a half in and went into the workforce.

Brandon holding a plaque for Top Cop  Award of Excellence.

To my chagrin, the workforce wasn’t very kind to me either. An eight-year stint as a security guard standing outside in the freezing snow while others were inside warm and cozy kind of gave me the kick in the butt and reality check to say, “Hey, maybe you need to go back to school.”

So, I decided to try again taking a slightly different approach. I went to a college that was very hands-on and had classes that not only reflected my major, but also was hands-on as well. I was pumped, I was excited; I’m finally get my chance to learn something. Two years in, I ended up needing to have an unexpected surgery and had to leave school for a while. To my surprise, I totally forget I applied to a police department earlier in the year not really thinking I’d get a call back. But I did and nine months later, I was a fully sworn-in police officer and a two-time college drop out.

Brandon holding a guitar on the Bunce steps.

You may be asking, where’s the sabbatical? Well, working turned out to be my sabbatical from the education realm. I worked on the police force for a total of eight years before I was forced to medically retire due to an injury on the job; needless to say, I was bummed and kind of felt lost after unexpectedly having such a life changing experience. Everything I had worked so hard for was gone just like that. But with that time that passed, it gave me time to reflect. I needed a plan “B.”

One night, my head started to wonder what to do and how to go about the next phase of my professional life. My wife with every care in the world suggested maybe I try and go back to school and finish what I started 10 years prior. After I finally got done rolling my eyes, I decided to pick up the phone and called Rowan. Truthfully, I didn’t think they’d accept me given how long it’s been since I had attended school and how old my credits were at the time. My credits were older than my dogs at this point, and my GPA wasn’t spectacular either, especially on my first go around. Here’s hoping they’d see my success at my second college attempt 10 years prior.

To my amazement, the powers that be at Rowan University gave me the opportunity to come back to school with a fresh slate and a newfound resurgence in wanting to finish this long-forsaken journey.

Brandon and his wife looking confused as they read each other's textbooks.

So here I am, a senior in college with an anticipated graduation date of spring 2022, God willing. I never thought I’d be doing this again; but to be honest, I’m glad I made that call. I’m glad I took another chance at my old dreams again. Once a dreamer, always a dreamer. Everything truly happens for a reason, and I’m ready to finally finish what I started years ago and accomplish something I would have never thought I’d have the opportunity to do.

As one of my favorite teachers once told me, “Don’t fret, you aren’t just a student, you are a professional in transition.” With those kind words, my life has never been the same. My professional transition starts here as a Rowan University graduate in 2022 with a double major in PR and Advertising.

I’m not a “school person” by any means; but Rowan doesn’t feel like school, it feels like my preparation to be the next better me. I can truly say I’m giving my true dreams a second chance at becoming reality.

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Story by:
Brandon Torres, senior public relations and advertising major

Photography by: 
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

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