My name is Darriel McBride, and I am the fifth of six children. I am the youngest girl and the first in my family to attend college. I was raised by a single mother and welfare recipient battling chronic anemia and kidney disease. My father is a heroin addict who has been absent for the majority of my life. I grew up in the South Bronx, one of the most underfunded and under-resourced districts in the United States. Growing up, I was exposed to an environment plagued by crime, violence, and drugs, all of which had the ability to hinder my chances of success.
College had never crossed my mind as I progressed throughout my early years of high school. I knew I could never afford the tuition, which meant that my chances of earning a degree were slim. Yet, I came across an opportunity during my senior year of high school that would change my life forever: I was awarded a scholarship through the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates. This scholarship would cover any unmet need for my undergraduate, master’s degree, and doctoral studies. If it were not for the Gates Millennium Scholarship, I would never have been exposed to the kind of opportunities that I was able to take advantage of while in college. In August of 2013, I was accepted into Marist College as a recipient of the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program, a partnership between the State of New York and its independent colleges which provides economically and educationally disadvantaged residents the possibility of a college education.