By Liz Calvo
Despite loving our college, she couldn’t afford to attend herself, so instead she went and studied at Florida International University.
“At first, I was an art major who later became an education major thanks to my mother,” said Farrell. “I’m so happy I listened to her rather than continuing my studies and not being able to support myself financially.”
While working toward her doctoral degree, Farrell worked as an adjunct professor at FIU, Nova University and other universities. After receiving her degree, Farrell became a K-8 school principal.
The year she was defending her dissertation, a significant milestone signaling closure on your graduate student career, her colleague recommended that she tried working at Barry as an adjunct for the fall semester.
She heard of Barry University after she hired a few new teachers for her school who were all Barry University alumni.
“I hired four people from Barry University, and I have to say that my Barry professors at the time were the best,” she said.
Then, after agreeing to work at Barry University as an adjunct after speaking with Dr. Katherine Whiteman Farrell, she “immediately fell in love with her job at Barry University.”
She continued working as a professor at Barry while maintaining her middle school job and being offered job opportunities from three universities.
“I have always known that down the line after my doctoral degree I wanted to have a career in higher education because I always wanted to teach future teachers, teacher educations, and conduct research in education,” said Farrell. “I love being able to work with people who are as passionate about their profession as I am,” she said.
After six months of working as a Barry University professor, Farrell was assigned as a director for numerous programs, which led to her role as a Department Chair in the School of Education. She later became the associate dean of the school and now the dean of the school.
“It’s been a great experience, Barry University is my home, my community, and my family,” she said.
One of the most notable achievements Farrell has accomplished for the school has been to establish a graduate program in the Bahamas 10 years ago.
“Before I became the associate dean, one of our alums’ parents asked us to bring graduate programs to the Bahamas in order to bring opportunity to teachers who can’t leave the islands, next thing I knew I was in the Bahamas recruiting for our programs,” she said.
There have been hundreds of graduates from the Bahamas and she has worked with three governments in order to keep developing the program and maintain a relationship with the school and the people.
“I made many trips to the Bahamas, especially during Hurricane Dorian to help with the relief and during the spring semester of 2020 where we hosted the alternative spring break mission trip,” she said.
While teaching at Barry, she remained connected to the education fund of Miami Dade County and was also a part of the superintendent’s urban principal initiative and the action research advisor for a national organization.
The most notable was her work in the collaborative nutrition initiative.
“We wanted to start gardens at school and trained teachers to use those gardens as the center piece of their curriculum,” she said.
At first, it started with second grade classes in five schools but then spread to 40 schools for all grade levels.
Two years ago, Farrell was honored as the first-ever recipient of The Education Fund’s Impact in Education Award for all the work she has done in the community and for her extraordinary work in education over the last 40 years.
“I am very passionate about what I do, and I believe that the only way to make the world a better place is through education, and that starts with teachers,” she said.
When asked about her general sentiment about Barry students, Farrell said, “I love my students, I try to teach as much as I can during the semester, at least twice a year. I think our students are amazing, they have a thirst for knowledge and are so connected to doing things for others.”
To communicate with Dr. Jill Farrel, please contact her at her email firstname.lastname@example.org