Edward Adamczyk joined the U.S. Army because he was tired of school.
“Toward the end of my junior year, a buddy of mine joined the Army and, after talking with him, I agreed to talk to a recruiter. I officially joined on the second day of classes in my senior year,” he said. “I wanted to try something different and I wanted to get out and experience new things.”
Adamczyk finished high school and entered active duty as a combat engineer. His career in the military spanned 20 years and included Cold War defense operations in Germany; combat operations and subsequent defense operations in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, including participation in Operation Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Desert Strike; and peacekeeping, bridge construction and demining operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. His impressive achievements include a Meritorious Service Medal, four Army commendation medals, four Army Achievement medals, a Valorous Unit Award and an Army Superior Unit Award.
“I’m proud to have been part of something that was greater than just me,” he said. “I am very proud of the many places I have been and the things I have done, especially the defense and peacekeeping operations.”
His career concluded with an honorable retirement from active duty in 2006. After several years at a desk job in Chicago, he and his wife decided to open their own greenhouse.
“I had no background in horticulture. To me, a shrub was good concealment and a tree was good cover and concealment, so I figured I had better start learning about it,” he said. “I live in Cook County but I had heard very good things about the College of DuPage’s Horticulture curriculum, so I decided to use my military education benefits to attend college at COD.”
Adamczyk obtained everything possible that the Horticulture program offered: an Associate in Applied Science in Horticulture, the Horticulture Certificate, Greenhouse Management Certificate, Landscape and Turf Management Certificate, the Nursery and Garden Center Management Certificate, and the Landscape Design and Construction Certificate.
He has since moved to the Raleigh, North Carolina, area with his wife. They opened Firefly Gardens LLC, and currently grow one small spring/summer crop and produce hanging baskets and pots, which they sell at a local farmers market. Business is good and they hope to obtain a second greenhouse, which will allow them to expand the number and type of seasonal crops in the future.
While attending College of DuPage, Adamczyk landed a position as a student worker in the school’s greenhouse. It is just one of the many reasons he is grateful that he chose COD to continue his education.
“The people working for College of DuPage have put forth outstanding effort in supporting me and my educational goals. From the personnel in the Veterans Services office and their leader, Shelly Mencacci, who assisted me with all of the necessary documentation for my VA education benefits, to the staff and students who work for various college departments, everyone was nice, friendly and especially helpful,” he said. “As for the faculty of the Horticulture program – Julia Fitzpatrick-Cooper, Judy Burgholzer, Amy Hull, Brian Clement and others – they not only taught me a lot about horticulture but they all had an influence in making me more confident in my newly chosen profession and a more personable individual.”
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