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From Cape Cod to Clarksville: Zoe Farren's journey to success at Austin Peay

By: Brian Dunn March 28, 2024

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Zoe Farren took a winding path to Austin Peay State University (APSU), but the journey has opened doors she never imagined since enrolling at the University of Tampa in 2020.

Farren, 22, was born and raised in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted her senior year, she headed south for college in Florida, becoming the second in her family to pursue higher education straight out of high school.

“I kind of went more so for [my younger brother] and myself than anything,” Farren said. “I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it because my parents didn’t. But I also wanted to prove to him that he has options.”

After three semesters studying marine biology and journalism in Tampa, family circumstances brought Farren to Clarksville in 2021. Seeking a fresh start, she transferred to APSU in the Spring 2022 semester to major in communication.

“I didn’t want to go to a huge university, and I was kind of over the city life,” Farren said. “When I came to visit in the summer, I honestly had just driven by the campus, and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s really cute.’”

The transition wasn’t always smooth. Farren faced the challenges of changing majors, moving back in with family and convincing her father that pursuing a degree was worthwhile. Supportive professors and real-world experience made the difference.

Working with Kara Zahn, the director of communications for APSU’s College of Arts and Letters, Farren has networked with industry professionals while helping to plan and staff events. These opportunities sparked her interest in sports public relations and event planning.

“I haven’t worked in a position in my field yet, and working under [Kara], she opened me up to so many people,” Farren said. “It was opening me up to all these different opportunities.”

Farren is set to finish her bachelor’s degree in May while starting a master’s through APSU’s accelerated graduate program. She has a 3.69 GPA and caught the faculty's attention, leading to an invitation to teach an event planning course next year as a graduate assistant.

“It’s just really great being able to have these relationships with professors that I never would have even thought that I would have,” Farren said. “They can tell if I’m not on my game.”

With graduation approaching, Farren aims to work in event coordination for a hockey team, ideally the Boston Bruins. She hopes her college journey will inspire her brother.

“It’s been nice going to APSU,” Farren said. “I feel like it has opened up a lot of experiences in my life and opened up a lot of doors. ... It’s refreshing thinking about it because my brother is 12 now, so in six years, he might be here too, doing everything I did.”

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