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Adult learner creates new potential career with digital media and design

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published May 23, 2023

Matthew Sobczyk's passion for creation has always driven him, whether it was through carpentry for over 30 years, or creating his own music.

Matthew Sobczyk and his band Rent PartyThis passion for creation eventually led him to taking digital media and design courses at College of Lake County (CLC).

“Creating something was why I got into construction,” Sobczyk said. “There’s always something to look at with construction. You get to see a final product.”

Photo: Matthew Sobczyk (right) with his band Rent Party at P.J.'s Lager House in Detroit.

Sobczyk has since left construction and works as the office manager at his wife’s speech pathology practice. He’d been helping her out anyway, and with construction work spotty after 2008, he slowly slid into the new role.

Most of Sobczyk’s tasks were things like scheduling appointments and sending out invoices. However, he sometimes had to create little signs or banners for decoration or internal messaging. Sobczyk didn’t have any digital graphic skills, so he created simple graphics on Microsoft Word.

Sobczyk’s stepson Jason earned a degree in digital media and design from Loyola University Chicago, and Sobczyk took an interest in the kinds of things Jason was creating. He looked into what CLC had to offer and enrolled.

This wasn’t Sobczyk’s first time going to college, having done his undergrad at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. At that time, an office job wasn’t really something that interested him.

“I was much more interested in building an office building than I was working inside of one,” he said.

While Sobczyk’s initial goal was just to take classes and learn for fun, he was so close to earning a certificate that he’s decided to finish it.

One of his favorite classes has been audio production. Sobczyk taught himself everything he knew about music recording, but in this class, he learned more skills and technical terms.

“It made me wish I’d gone into sound engineering when I was younger,” Sobczyk said.

Though Sobczyk is older than most of his classmates, he feels at home at CLC.

“I don’t feel like an outcast being the older guy,” Sobczyk said. “I’m never the only adult student in my class. I’ve seen a lot of people close to my age. There’s a large diversity of age and cultures.”

He has a different maturity level and mindset than when he first went to school, and that has helped him enjoy learning more this time around.

“Back then, I thought I knew more than I did,” he said. “Now, I’m learning, and I don’t want to stop. As I get older, I don’t want to feel stagnant. I want to learn more about what’s going on. It keeps me connected with something outside myself.”

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes in 2019 and is a national leader in many areas, including campus internationalization, sustainability and conservation.