Graduate Profile: Adrian Barden, Entrepreneurship and Innovation

May 25, 2023 Rich Rezler

Adrian Barden and family
Adrian Barden poses with his wife, Rayna, and their son, Adrian Jr., during an Office of Diversity & Inclusion gradation celebration. (Photo by JD Scott)


Graduation doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve reached the end of your higher education pursuits. For Adrian Barden, joining the Washtenaw Community College Class of 2023 is just one stop along a much longer journey.

Barden, a 39-year-old Ypsilanti resident, celebrated the completion of an Entrepreneurship and Innovation certificate. But there’s plenty more to accomplish.

The former warehouse worker decided to take a shot at building his photography hobby into a business, so he paid WCC a visit to see how his local community college could help. As it turns out, he found a program he was interested … and a chance encounter helped nullify his concerns about returning to a college classroom as an adult.  

“I was walking on campus and started talking to an older gentlemen, he was probably in his 70s, that I thought was an instructor,” Barden said. “After talking to him for a while, I realized he was actually a student. I decided right then that if he could do it, I could too.”

Barden had great success in his Entrepreneurship and Innovation program, giving him the confidence to aim higher. He is currently pursuing a Business Administration 3+1 transfer program that will allow him to earn 78 credits at WCC’s low tuition rate before transferring to Eastern Michigan University to complete a bachelor’s degree.

And if his own self-confidence wasn’t motivation enough to continue his academic journey, the birth of his son, Adrian Jr., definitely put him over the top.

“He is my motivation. I want to show him a different way,” Barden said while holding Adrian Jr. at a WCC Office of Diversity & Inclusion graduation event. “I grew up in the city of Detroit, where sometimes life is stacked against you. I want to be somebody that beats the odds. I set a goal and achieving it proves something to my family and myself.”



Tags: Business Administration, Class of 2023, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Graduation, June 2023, On The Record, Student Profile

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