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Student Experience
Darnell Ford
Darnell Ford College of San Mateo

With that smile—and it is a winning smile—College of San Mateo student Darnell Ford is going places.

One of those places may be the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a four-year college to which Ford hopes to transfer when he completes his studies at CSM.

And he is optimistic because he believes good things are going to happen.

“My life thus far is nothing short of a miracle,” says the 25-year-old student from Gary, Indiana. “I’ve overcome a lot of adversity and I still face some today. But I manage to stay focused and aligned in my new path of life.”

During his childhood and high school years, Ford’s life was tough, mostly because of the cash-strapped and rocky household where he lived with his father, step-mother and four siblings. After graduation from high school, his situation didn’t improve. He was accepted for admission into Purdue University but decided to forego college; instead, he drifted for three years in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois, partying with friends while living with relatives until they asked him to leave.

“I was very lost,” said Ford, who experienced some problems with the law after moving to California in 2001.

In 2004, however, things began to change as Ford found his way to CSM and the support he needed.

“I chose CSM because it offered more classes pertaining to my major,” he says, “and because of its diversity. I love the diversity, being from a small, predominantly black community.”

“Programs like Extended Opportunity Programs & Services (EOPS) and Financial Aid at CSM promote diversity by assisting less fortunate students of all ethnicities,” he adds.

“They’ve made it possible for me to be here.”

Today, Ford is thriving as a bio-engineering student in his second year at the College, carrying a 3.7 grade point average. He is an elected student senator who serves on the Diversity in Action Group, and the finance and administration sub-committees. His involvement as a representative of CSM’s student body has taken him to several statewide conferences, including the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s President Summit conference in Los Angeles last October.

Always busy, he works on and off campus and stays in shape by boxing and working out (during his high school years, he was a threetime Indiana Golden Gloves state champion).

In his rare free time, he also keeps his mind in shape, playing chess and dominoes.

Ford says that he knows that if he stays on his present path, he and those close to him will have a better life. But that’s not enough for him.

“I want to help others, people who are having tough times,” he says. “I want to be an example for them.”