Darrell Ian Pacheco
Community College: Northampton Community College
Area of Study: Political Science
Involvements: Residential Advisor, student government, M.O.R.E (Men Overcoming Restrictive Expectations), MANdatory men’s leadership group, African American Society
Why did you decide to enroll at a community college and then to pursue a liberal-arts education? And why Dickinson?
I decided to enroll into a community college for personal reasons. My family had moved to the area two years prior to me graduating from Liberty High School in Bethlehem, Pa., and I wasn’t quite ready to move away from home. Also, the affordability of Northampton Community College (NCC) helped to reinforce my decision. Being a first-generation college student, and with my personal understanding of success set quite high, I craved academic rigor and applied for the honors program at NCC. I was ultimately accepted and flourished within the program.
Nearing the end of my time at NCC, I began to look into continuing my education at a four-year institution and instantly turned off by the mega universities. They simply did not offer the intimacy of classes and professors that I came to enjoy in the honors program. One of my professors recommended to me liberal-arts colleges. A few weeks later I had the good fortune to meet President William G. Durden '71 and he described the value of a liberal-arts education in the 21st century and the benefits provided within its framework—small classes and dedicated faculty and staff in addition to exceptional outcomes. I was hooked. I created a short list of schools with Dickinson being at the top and scheduled tours.
After my first tour of Dickinson College I was absolutely in love. This institution had “it”—whatever “it” was. The faculty was of the highest caliber, the curriculum engaging, the student body diverse in many ways and the alumni network and outcomes—bar none. Dickinson was the place for me.
Is there a particular academic experience during your time at Dickinson that stands out as most meaningful/influential?
I completed my required senior seminar in political science my junior year and was encouraged by a faculty member to pursue a political science honors thesis my senior year. The process of completing this thesis was the most intellectually tasking project that I’ve had to complete in college. It stands out the most to me because it required that I go beyond my strengths and invest time learning new skills on my own. The faculty member that aided me, Professor Todd Makse, became a mentor in many ways to me and really pushed me to my perceived limits.
How did your participation in extracurricular opportunities help you become integrated into the social community at Dickinson? And how were those extracurricular involvements critical to your Dickinson experience?
Since Dickinson is a small residential college it’s quite easy to make friends and connections. My extracurricular experiences played an important role in my Dickinson experiences and, in many ways, defined it. There are organizations here for every interest, and it isn’t difficult to find what suits you the best. I found what suited me best and simply applied myself.
How have you been influenced by the Dickinson network, and how do you plan to give back to the college as a member of the alumni community?
I had the good fortune of attending a finance trip organized by the Career Center to network with Dickinson alumni in New York City in addition to participating in Networking Day here on campus and meeting with alumni. As a member of the alumni community I plan to give back in any way that I can. In addition to donating to the Annual Fund, I hope to be in a position one day to hire Dickinson students as interns or even offer a new graduate a job. Those events, much like donations, have measureable impacts on individuals’ lives, and there is no greater good than that.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I was offered a position with The Vanguard Group in Philadelphia working in finance as a client relationship associate. I actually was able to land this position with the assistance of Dickinson alumni, hence my strong desire to pay it forward in any way that I can for other Dickinson students.