Francisco Navarrete, an administrative supervisor in a law office, went back to school at age 36 after 15 years in real estate legal support. His goals are not about impressing a present or future employer. “My interest is in having a book of short fiction published,” says the English major in writing. “My main concern is enriching myself with knowledge.”
If you were interviewing yourself, what would you ask, and how would you answer?
I guess I would ask myself, “Why go back to school at 36 when you have a solid career?” And I would answer, “Time means less and less the older I get, so why not use it to pursue a dream?” My main concern is enriching myself with knowledge, which sounds clichéd and possibly naive, but after 15 years of a fairly successful career in real estate legal work, I still do not have the fulfillment of doing something that means more than merely making money.
Besides school and your job, you also have your responsibilities as a husband and father. How do you balance everything?
Working a 9-to-5 job and being a husband and father is not nearly as hard has having no job and no family. I have lots of support from everyone in my life, including my employer, who all understand that being in school is a priority during the short time I am in it. I generally spend one full weekend day studying, and I’m somewhat demanding about leaving the office as close to 5:00 p.m. as possible and using my lunch hours to read. I always have my books with me and read whenever riding the CTA or Metra. I think the secret to doing well in any arena, whether family, work or school, is to give full attention to each thing while you're engaged with it. There’s always time for what has to be done if you are willing to sacrifice some frivolities.
How would you rate the humanities instruction at SPS?
It is the best I can imagine. I've never before experienced in school the sort of engagement and guidance the instructors at SPS have shown.
What are you hoping for as a writer?
My interest is in having a book of short fiction published. There are various pathways for becoming a writer — enough for me to feel confident, especially after my Northwestern experience, that writing opportunities may open up to allow writing to be financially supportive and free me to write full time.