When Darryl speaks, it is evident that he has found his life’s calling. His enthusiasm and excitement for his profession as an electronic engineer bubbles to the surface.
Darryl grew up in Farmington, New Mexico, and after high school enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he discovered a love of aircraft and electronics. Recognizing that his passion would make an excellent career choice, but short on money, Darryl enrolled at San Juan College after his discharge. Darryl says this choice enabled him to live at home while saving to go to a four-year school to complete his bachelor’s degree.
Darryl’s family encouraged him all the way. His mother helped him financially when she could, but Daryl says he still needed financial assistance. He applied to the American Indian College Fund and received a Ford scholarship.
“I had all of the dedication, determination, and will to finish college, but without money, I couldn’t do it,” he says. “I learned not to give up—to be passionate about my dream. I sought financial support by applying for as many scholarships as I could; mentor support by getting to know my professors; and I was passionate about my dream.”
Darryl graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S. in electrical engineering. He now works for the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force base in California as a civilian employee as a testing engineer. He designs tests for aircraft systems and verifies and evaluates aircraft systems to determine that they meet specifications, and also to ensure the design and parts are in working order before they are deployed.
Darryl is responsible for all aspects of the aircraft from the radar systems to the engine to the electronic warfare systems.
In addition to the emotional and financial support of his family, financial support from the American Indian College Fund, and the support of his professors, Darryl says it was important to his success to find other Natives to relate to on campus. “CSU has a large cultural center, and there I met with other Natives as well as other groups. We were all able to support each other to make the campus seem more like home,” he says.
Darryl adds, “I was passionate about my dreams. That is my advice to others—be passionate. Things will be hard but you can succeed.”