Darrin Chambers

Darrin is a low-income African-American returning student with a wife and two children. He currently works two jobs.

  • Primary Goal: Earn a one-year certificate in automotive tech, and spend weekends with his family.
  • Main Challenges: Most college support services are closed by the time he gets off work, and he needs financial aid assistance.
  • Occupation: Automotive Technology
  • Age: 28

College is really hard for working students and I wish there were more services available in the evenings.

Darrin had heard of community colleges, but always thought that college was for the privileged. He couldn’t imagine how with two kids, a wife, and two jobs he could possibly complete college, until one of his coworkers in a similar situation started taking classes at a local college. One night after work, Darrin went to the college with his friend and sat in on an auto class. He talked to the instructor during break and found out that after finishing a one-year certificate program he could get a job making twice as much as his current salary. That would mean he wouldn’t have to work his second job on weekends and could spend more time with his family.

The following week, Darrin went back to the college after work to register. But by the time he got there, the office was closed. The instructor told him that he could fill out the application online and gave Darrin the link. That night after the kids were in bed Darrin completed the application online. Then he waited and after a week he finally received a letter from the college with instructions on enrollment. Unfortunately, he had missed the registration deadline by about a week.

The following week, Darrin went back to the college after work. The instructor told him that he would add Darrin to the class late and help him catch up. The instructor gave Darrin an add card and told him that this late in the game, Darrin would have to get the dean’s signature. The instructor allowed Darrin to stay in class and participate in the activities. Darrin really enjoyed learning and participating in the lab activities.

A couple of days later, Darrin left work early and went to the college to get the dean’s signature. The dean wasn’t there, so Darrin talked to his assistant. She was not as supportive and told him that he shouldn’t have missed the deadline to register. Darrin tried to explain his situation, but she didn’t seem to believe his story. Finally, she agreed to take the add card and ask the dean for her signature. She told Darrin to come back the next day. Darrin explained that he couldn’t leave work early that often. She didn’t have a solution for that.

The following week, Darrin left work early again to get to the college before class. The dean’s assistant had been able to get the dean’s signature and gave the signed add card to Darrin. He was very thankful and asked what the next step would be. The assistant told Darrin that at this point, he would also need the VP’s signature. Darrin rushed over to the VP’s office and luckily, the VP was there and was very helpful. She signed the add card, but told Darrin that she would only sign a late add card for him one time. By this time the registration office was closed, so Darrin had to wait until the following week to actually register for the class. In the meantime, Darrin’s wife kept telling him that he was wasting his time and should keep his focus on his jobs and family.