Uber driver on path to creating community impact
Darrell Hill earns BA in organizational leadership through ASU Online
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.
Twenty years after he last attended school, Darrell Hill can now say he has his degree. This spring, the new graduate earned his Bachelor of Arts in organizational leadership through ASU Online.
Hill’s high school years were filled with sports — track, football and wrestling. He accepted a full-ride scholarship to play football at a state university, but circumstances forced him to relocate to Los Angeles before he could complete his degree. For a while, it was enough. Hill worked as a legal records coordinator in Hollywood, then as a manager in the home improvement industry. In 2021, he was employed as a security officer at the Getty Museum while driving part-time for Uber.
That’s when he discovered Uber Education Partnership, a tuition-coverage program for qualifying Uber drivers and eligible family members to earn an undergraduate degree through ASU Online.
“I took a leap of faith and resigned from the security position and started driving full-time for Uber,” Hill said. “Soon after I applied and got accepted into the organizational leadership program. I chose this program because I wanted to learn about diversity in the workplace and how I could become a transformational leader.”
Now Hill would like to pay it forward and use his new degree to make a difference in his community while also setting his sights on a master’s degree.
“I’d really like to help the youth in inner cities, so I applied to Teach for America,” he said. “It’s a great program because they provide funding for teachers who want to pursue their master’s degree. No word yet, but the career counselors at ASU have given me plenty of information on the organizational leadership master’s program. I’m optimistic that it will happen.”
Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: My aha moment came in 2020 when the looting and rioting in Los Angeles was happening everywhere because of the George Floyd incident. I wanted to find a way to build bridges among people because I was disappointed with the way the country was going.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU Online — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: I was surprised by how transparent and authentic my classmates and professors were. I was not expecting them to be as helpful and supportive when I experienced difficulty with an assignment.
For instance, my classmates would help out with questions, like which format style would work best for writing essays. Another time I mistakenly submitted an assignment late because I forgot that we were in a different time zone. My professor understood that it was an honest mistake.
Where I gained the most support from the professors is when the instructions for an assignment didn’t resonate with me — especially since all their styles were different — and they would make it easier for me to comprehend. They understood that I had been out of school for over 20 years and I was in the process of trying to adapt to the system all over again.
Q: Why did you choose ASU Online?
A: I chose ASU because of its reputation for helping the underprivileged in the community. They have a proven track record of providing a welcoming environment for domestic and international students and faculty.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU Online?
A: In OGL 340: The Aikido Way, the most important lesson that I learned was how to manage conflict professionally. Professor Bill Erwin introduced me to “the way of harmonizing energy,” which is a technique that utilizes four principles: centering, welcome, blending and directing.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Always read your course syllabuses thoroughly, check your Canvas calendars daily and always stay connected with your classmates and professors.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I would like to take a trip to Hawaii for a few days to relax and relish this major accomplishment. My fiancee and I went to Maui five years ago for a vacation and really enjoyed the culture, food and tranquility. This is when we were still dating, and I had not popped the question just yet! This time around I would like to explore the island more and its history. I think it's important to get to know the locals so that visitors like us can get a feel of what life is really like for the people who call Hawaii home.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I have always dreamed of having a nonprofit organization that provided shoes and socks for children all over the world. There is no greater feeling than to experience happy feet!
Written by Margot LaNoue for ASU Online.