“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want to end up [as] another statistic,” said Darren.
So, he made moves. He asked a high school teacher to help him get a co-op job with the Bexar County Sheriff. After the co-op was completed, he was hired full-time as a correctional officer. It was after working as a correctional officer that he decided he wanted more, so he joined the Army.
“I am a no-nonsense, relentless, grateful, empathetic, rock solid leader. I was none of those things before I was a soldier,” he said. “I really can’t say that it was some profound life experience that led me to join the Army, but what I can say [is] it was one of the best decisions I have made in my life and 11 years later, I still enjoy being a soldier.”
It was being in the Army that led him to pursue his Bachelor of Science in criminal justice administration. That and some encouragement from his wife, LaShonda. After years of service and traveling across the globe to places like Afghanistan, Korea, Turkey, Canada, Greenland and Scotland, Darren and LaShonda decided that it was time to start planning for life after the military.
“I realized that I want to set the bar for my three boys to follow—Darrius, 5; Elijah, 13; and Christopher, 12,” Darren said. “How can I tell them to go to college if I had not?”
In addition to working 14-hour days and spending time with his family, Darren started taking classes with Waldorf online, with help from his academic advisor, Mrs. Waldrop.
“Mrs. Waldrop made sure I was on track with completing my degree, taking time out of her day just to answer my 101 questions I always had,” he said. “And she would always follow [up] our conversation with an email outline on what classes I need to take and what classes she thought would fit into my busy work schedule.”
Darren plans to return home from deployment in June 2017, with his newly acquired bachelor’s degree in tow. Outside of celebrating his recent graduation, Darren has one more thing to check off his to do list when he returns stateside: “Go fishing with my three boys.”