From RVC to NYC: Adam Garner's Journey of Intellectual Growth and Professional Success

Adam Garner's journey from high school to higher education was a testament to second chances. Despite academic struggles in high school, he found himself at Rock Valley College, seeking an opportunity to pursue his education and passion.

Adam Garner

Adam Garner, RVC Alumn

Reflecting on his experience, Adam acknowledges that RVC provided the flexibility and support he needed to thrive academically.

His time at RVC was transformative, marked by intellectual exploration and personal growth. Immersed in the study of philosophy, Adam found himself captivated by complex intellectual puzzles and engaging discussions. The Philosophy Club provided a vibrant community for him to delve deeper into philosophical inquiry, culminating in organizing public debates on challenging topics like the Problem of Evil.

Guided by insightful professors like Professor Rotert, Adam learned the value of constructive disagreement and dialogue. This ethos of respectful discourse has since become a guiding principle in his professional endeavors.

"Adam has such a bright intellect, and he paired that intellect with a willingness to participate and work that made his contributions in our classroom such a joy for the rest of us," said Dr. Michelle Rotert.  "More than just a having gifted intellect, Adam has a gifted soul.  His presence invariably lit up the room; it was a genuine pleasure to be a part of the learning process with him.  He is an absolute treasure of a human being—with an unmistakable joie de vivre.  Even now, this many years later, the mere thought of him makes me smile.  He was the sort of student every teacher is delighted to find in her classroom.  We are all lucky to have him in our world."

His journey at RVC was also marked by financial independence and responsibility. As a student worker, he earned enough to pay for his education out of pocket, avoiding the burden of excessive student debt. This financial freedom allowed him to pursue his academic interests and shape his career path without financial constraints.

Adam fondly remembers the impact of educators like Kanwal Prasher, whose World Religions course left a lasting impression on him. Inspired by his experiences at RVC, Adam pursued a career focused on tackling complex problems with no easy answers.

From electoral organizing to digital strategy, Adam's career has been diverse and dynamic. As a Product Manager at The New York Times, he navigates the complexities of software development, strategy, and problem-solving. His work aims to enhance reader engagement and journalistic responsiveness in a rapidly changing media landscape.

Reflecting on his journey, Adam acknowledges the profound influence of his time at RVC. The philosophy of asking good questions and embracing intellectual curiosity has shaped his approach to life and work. Despite the uncertainties and challenges of his career, Adam has never regretted his decision to attend RVC, viewing it as the foundation for his personal and professional growth.

“I've had a weird and winding career,” said Adam. “The thread that ties it all together though is that I’ve intentionally tried to find places where I could work on hard pressing problems without simple answers. Studying philosophy, and specifically the early thinking I did in spaces like Professor Rotert's ethics courses, taught me how to do that. Presuming that answers will not be obvious and that to get anything close to an answer you have to learn how to ask really good questions are key tools that I use every single day.”

Now settled in New York City for almost a decade, Adam embraces the vibrant chaos of urban life. NYC has become his home, providing a backdrop for his continued exploration and growth. From philosophy to product management, Adam's journey is a testament to the transformative power of education and the pursuit of passion.

With each step in his career, Adam remains grounded in the values instilled in him at RVC – integrity, curiosity, and a commitment to making a difference. As he continues to navigate the complexities of the professional world, Adam's journey serves as an inspiration to others, demonstrating the endless possibilities that arise from embracing one's passions and pursuing higher education.

“I’m where I am because of RVC,” continued Adam. “It was such an important home for me on campus. Building an intentional community around a shared love of big questions made them feel more alive. Plus, I think we had some of the best swag on campus.”