Berkeley Today Stories
Berkeley College Alumna Darnella Harris Says, ‘If I Can Do It, Anyone Can!’
Growing up in foster care, Darnella Harris thought that everything in her world would stop when she got pregnant at the age of 16. She didn’t realize at the time that her life wasn’t over. It was just getting started.
Despite the untimely responsibilities associated with teenage motherhood, Darnella was determined to go back to school and pursue a higher degree of education. In 2018, she graduated cum laude from Berkeley College with a 3.67 GPA and received an Associate in Applied Science degree (A.A.S.) Health Services Administration.
“I watched an online commercial about Berkeley College, did some research, and learned that the school has some really great healthcare programs! Since I was already working at Weill Cornell Medical Center as an Account Administrator in the Center for Reproductive Medicine, I decided to give Berkeley a try,” she explained.
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From the time the Bedford–Stuyvesant resident came in to register for classes at the Berkeley College Brooklyn campus, she describes the experience as ‘wonderful from start to finish.’
“Failing is not an option at Berkeley College because faculty and staff members are always willing to offer their support,” Darnella said. She appreciates the tutoring sessions and term paper reviews that she was offered in the Center for Academic Success.
Health classes taught by former Professor LaToya Trowers-Bell, Ed.D, were some of Darnella’s most memorable moments on campus. She’s also extremely proud of receiving an A in Accounting.
She continued to make the President’s or Dean’s List each semester and as an Associate’s degree student, Darnella was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society in 2017.
When certain required classes interfered with her daytime work schedule, she took the liberty to enroll in Berkeley College Online®. Through it all, Darnella never lost sight of the prize and continued to nurture her growing family at home. Daughters Danasia and Ramiya were her biggest inspirations and kept her focused on being a positive role model in their lives. She still wanted to feed them properly, read bedtime stories, and tuck them in at night.
Juggling family, work, and three evening classes tested her resilience at times, but it was the members of First Baptist Church of Crown Heights; her two best friends, Ordonna Sargent and Keena Humphrey; and fiancé, Shawn Miller who lifted Darnella up every step of the way.
Through the Career Services Department, Darnella learned how to setup a LinkedIn account and began to network over social media. “When companies see Berkeley College on your application and Phi Theta Kappa, they want you!” she advised.
On July 9, Darnella started a new job working at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as a Coordinator in the Pathology, Revenue Cycle and Billing Department.
“It’s never too late, so don’t give up,” she said. “There were times when I thought - ‘I can’t afford this, I can’t do this, I don’t have proper child care.’ You can make a bunch of complaints about why you can’t do this or that. ‘Everything seems impossible until it’s actually done’ - that’s the motto I wrote on my graduation cap!”