Worth the Journey
Tri-C graduate Darko Marinkovic discovers new passions
Darko Marinkovic jokes that he's been at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) for so long that he's earned tenure. But the journey has been worth it.
Marinkovic, 42, graduates during Tri-C's Fall 2021 Commencement on Thursday, Dec. 16, with an Associate of Arts, marking a milestone in a decades-long career path — one that he intends to continue traveling.
"My wife jokes I could be in school the rest of my life and be happy," he said. "I don't plan on stopping after my bachelor's. if I need to get my master's, I'll get my master's."
Marinkovic began working in restaurants in 1998, falling in love with the business, the people and the energy. While he wanted to explore creative writing at the time, his heart wasn't in it — and because the money was good, he chose to remain in the restaurant industry.
After taking a class at Tri-C in spring 2002, he paused all academic work for more than a decade. In 2013, at his girlfriend's suggestion, Marinkovic returned to the College to discover a new passion.
"We had been dating for a few years," he said. "I was losing passion for restaurants, and I felt like there was something more I could offer. She encouraged me to take a class and see what happened."
Within a year, the two had married and had a son — which caused Marinkovic to set aside his academic pursuits again as he focused on being a parent and spouse. But he never lost sight of his goal.
"I took a class here, a class there. I was sticking with it and really enjoying it," he said. "There have been times when I had to drop a class or two because I was overwhelmed and frustrated. I wanted to get it completed. I wanted to see where the journey took me."
Uncertain what he wanted to focus on, Marinkovic took full advantage of the expertise Tri-C's career and transfer centers had to offer. He also drew inspiration from his professors.
A particularly engaging geology class with assistant professor Michelle Davis has Marinkovic considering an environmental services major at the University of Cincinnati, where he will enroll in January.
"Her passion for the planet at large really came through in her lectures," he said. "One of the most important things we can do is to leave what we have in similar or better shape for our kids."
Marinkovic cites the story of Manfred Steiner, a retired doctor who graduated with a Ph.D. in physics from Brown University at age 89, as a source of motivation.
"When I'm having frustrating moments, I think of that," he said. "I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, but that's okay."
Cuyahoga Community College will celebrate the academic achievements of its newest graduates during commencement on Dec. 16 at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland. Check our News and Events page leading up to the event for more highlights of the Class of 2021.
December 13, 2021
By Anthony Moujaes, 216-987-3068 email@example.com