Hope Takes Flight
‘I made it happen.’
Darian Slater has dreamt of becoming an airline pilot since he was 6 years old. At 20, despite years of that goal seeming increasingly unattainable, he’s enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in Aircraft Operations at Vaughn College.
As a child living in Brooklyn with his mom and three siblings, Darian had trouble focusing in school, had a reading ability far below grade level, and was frequently reprimanded for poor behavior.
To help him focus, his school district recommended he attend Greenburgh Eleven on CV’s Dobbs Ferry campus. He began commuting in the seventh grade, a bus journey that took 90 minutes.
“I cursed that bus ride. I hated it every day!” he says with a laugh. “But one day in tenth grade, I realized something. I still couldn’t read well and had failed another Regents exam. I still hoped to become a pilot -– and I realized that wasn’t going to happen unless I made it happen. I told myself, ‘If becoming a pilot is your dream, you’ve gotta get through this.'”
After that, he pushed to do better in school even though it was a struggle.
“My teachers really helped me pursue my goal. They helped me research colleges and complete my applications. When I was ready to submit my application to Vaughn College, I didn’t have $40 for the application fee. I was so upset.”
The school guidance counselor convinced the college to waive the application fee, and Darian was accepted.
“I couldn’t believe it. My guidance counselor called me when I was on the bus going home, and it was too good to be true. I thought it was a prank. But then the letter came and I knew it was for real!”
Darian spoke at the school’s graduation in June 2016, challenging the graduates to follow their dreams.
He is now in his second year of the 4-year program, going to school full time and working 30+ hours at a department store. He qualified for his student pilot license, the first step toward a commercial license, and looks forward to being the first person in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Darian relishes every second he’s able to spend in an airplane — his dream come true.