Meet our Students
Meet Darrenn Williams
Going back to school after 29 years would be challenging for most people, but Darrenn Williams made the transition to life at MiraCosta College quite smoothly. While she was growing up, education was not something her family encouraged. At the age of three her father was killed in the military, leaving her mother to raise Darrenn and her siblings alone. “My mother was always working. She had three jobs, and I remember going out to my mother’s janitorial services job and helping her at work and going to school really tired the next day,” says Darrenn.
Years later, just before the birth of her first son who is now 28 years old, Darrenn stopped pursuing an education. Twenty-nine years after her educational journey was put on hold, Darrenn’s life has been completely transformed. Because of the significant gap in her education, many people were surprised by Darrenn’s decision to go back to school. “None of my friends could believe that I was going to school,” says Darrenn. Even in spite of the skepticism, she pursued education with the support of her three children.
“I decided to go to MiraCosta because of the location and affordability, but now it is like a second family to me,” says Darrenn. At MiraCosta College, Darrenn decided to major in art because ever since she was a child the subject has fascinated her. “I started doing art when I was very young. I remember making a painting and showing my teacher – she thought it was amazing. After that I started doing art for the audiences’ reaction,” says Darrenn.
When she started attending MiraCosta College, Darrenn noticed that she needed more time on exams than other students, and she was continuously distracted. Due to her struggles in the classroom, she decided to meet with someone in DSPS (Disabled Students Programs and Services). After being tested, Darrenn learned that she suffered from dyslexia and short-term memory problems. Since learning about her disabilities she has worked with DSPS. “With the help of DSPS, I can focus a lot more and don’t feel like I need to rush on exams or homework,” says Darrenn.
Along with the services DSPS has provided, Darren also received assistance from EOPS (Extended Opportunities, Programs and Services). “The program helps me with paying for books and keeps me on track in working towards my goal, an Associate of Arts in Art Studio,” says Darrenn.
During the spring semester of 2012, Darrenn was surprised with two scholarship awards: The EOPS Recognition Award and the J. Arthur and Pauline Drielsma Reentry Endowed Scholarship. Both scholarships were presented at the Sixteenth Annual EOPS Recognition Ceremony. “They seated me at the very front of the banquet hall, and I was called up and received a scholarship from Dick Robertson, the vice president of student services. It was an emotional evening for my family and I,” says Darrenn.
In addition to the scholarship recognition, Darrenn’s artwork was showcased at the awards ceremony. “One of my paintings was displayed at the entrance of the banquet hall. Inside, there was a banner with my name, surrounded by my artwork. When I was asked to have my work displayed I did not expect anything like that. It was overwhelming,” says Darren.
In the spring semester of 2013 Darrenn will graduate from MiraCosta College. She has received numerous academic recognitions, and currently holds a 3.1 GPA. When asked what inspires her to strive for academic excellence, Darrenn says: “I treat school as a job. You get up every day, go to work, and then get paid. I do the same with school, but for me the more I’m learning the more I get paid.”
Darrenn is now a strong advocate for encouraging people to pursue education. She has participated in numerous workshops presented to instructors and tutors, which are held by DSPS to educate others about learning with a disability. Darrenn is also constantly talking to people about how much education has changed her life. “I have encouraged three high school friends, a worker at a bakery I frequent, and people who I don’t even know,” says Darrenn. As she continues to pursue her educational goals, Darrenn continues to be an example for others, proving that there is no age limit to education.