Alaska Airlines

Photos by Ingrid Barrentine

Darren, an Alaska Airlines line aircraft technician trainer based in San Francisco, was introduced to the airline industry by his mom, who served as a flight attendant

“Being exposed to airplanes at a very young age, and being able to fly and go on trips was just amazing,” said Darren.

His mother introduced him to the joy of travel, often bringing him along on layover trips. He credits her for igniting his passion for aviation.

“I love airplanes, just seeing them every day, being able to touch them, and to allow others to realize that there’s many opportunities with Alaska.”

Darren knew he wanted to work for an airline after growing up in Florida. “I got tired of the heat and was like ‘I’m out.” After studying Aeronautics at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Darren started his career as a Maintenance Technician with Virgin America.

A year and a half later, he became part of the Alaska family through the merging of the two companies. After a few years in a technician role, he saw an opportunity to grow into a training role.

It’s been a nice ride being able to see the difference in people that come through and the impacts I’ve been able to make with them as a trainer … a few coworkers have told me they will never forget the way I made them feel, and how much effort and work I put into them,” he said.

In his spare time, Darren doesn’t stray far from aircraft. In addition to his maintenance career, he is also pursuing his private pilot license.  There have been bumps along the way personally and financially, but he doesn’t let it stop him. If there’s one thing Darren will say about himself, it’s that he is determined and ambitious.

The fact that he was born with mild to severe hearing loss has not held him back in his pursuit of excellence in his career. Often, people don’t realize that he has hearing loss, but he certainly doesn’t shy away from letting people know.

“I always share that because that’s part of me,” said Darren. “Just because I have a disability doesn’t mean that you need to avoid or feel like we can’t communicate.”

Darren is not one to shy away from a challenge and acknowledges that he often must work harder than most given his circumstance.

“I have felt overlooked at times in my life because of my disability, and not given a chance. So, when I sense that, or feel it indirectly, it tells me I’m just going to have to go above and beyond, which I always do,” he says.

There can be many misconceptions about working with someone with a disability, but Darren says he has a team that surrounds him with support and care.

“My co-workers … I cannot be thankful enough for the support they give and being able to depend on them, and they can depend on me,” he said. “Those friendships are lasting because there are things I’m always going to remember from my time here at Alaska.”

“I Am …” at Alaska Airlines

Our “I Am…” Campaign kicked off in January to celebrate Heritage Months and the diversity of our employees. Keep an eye out for the “I Am…” logo throughout the year to read their inspiring stories.

We’re sharing Darren’s story in honor of Black History Month, which starts February 1 through March 1. At Alaska, we believe Black History Month is an opportunity to look back and to look forward – to reflect on how far we’ve come, and to recognize how much work we have left to do.

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