First-Generation Student Beats Challenges and Heads for Helping Careers: Darcie Ecker, '23

Dec. 7, 2023
Darcie Ecker

Darcie Ecker

Darcie Ecker, who is graduating with a major in Care, Health & Society, and a thematic minor in business, communication, and psychology, is the recipient of the fall 2023 SBS Student Success Award, which is given to a graduating senior who is a first-generation college student. 

The mother of three children, Darcie always wanted to go to college but never felt it was attainable for her, especially after struggling to complete high school. After years of working in low-paying jobs, she began — with the encouragement of her spouse Jonathan — to work on a strategy to attend college and earn her degree. 

“My educational journey certainly did not take the traditional path. It has been neither quick, nor easy, and along the way, I had often felt that perhaps the burden was too great to continue,” Darcie wrote. “Having my family in my corner, supporting, and encouraging me throughout this process, gave me the strength to push forward. Although I took the path less traveled, it has indeed made all the difference.”

Shery Crater, assistant director of academic advising at the College of Social and Behavioral Science, spent time with Darcie, discussing her plans and developing a graduation plan. “She has been diligently working toward her goals and as her advisor, I am excited to see it come to fruition,” Crater wrote. 

Throughout her program, Darcie has maintained full-time employment and currently works as a paraprofessional. Amid juggling her family and work responsibilities, she is a member of Honor Society and is ranked third academically in the graduating Care, Health & Society majors this semester.  

Director of Care, Health & Society, Carrie Langley, who co-nominated Darcie for this award, had her in three upper-division courses, where she not only submitted exceptional academic work but also incorporated materials throughout the program while asking questions and looking through a critical lens. “It’s her insightful way of seeing the ‘big picture’ that sticks with me most,” Langley wrote. 

Darcie has always enjoyed working in the helping professions. Post-graduation, she plans to become a healthcare case manager, helping the elderly transition smoothly from inpatient care to community services post-discharge.

“I’m extremely enthusiastic about the opportunities that lie ahead,” Darcie said. “I feel as though I have always been drawn to helping others, and now armed with my degree, I have cleared a path to pursue my lifelong career goals.”