Student Leadership Engagement (SLE) is a large part of student life at USF. The center consists of student and leadership directors who promote engagement, social responsibility and involvement on campus. Next year, however, will mark a change in the SLE office. Darren Pierre, SLE assistant director, recently announced that he will leave USF at the semester’s end. Pierre has been a part of USF for the past three and a half years, and is leaving to pursue a Ph.D in College Student Affairs from The University of Georgia.
In his three years alone, Darren Pierre has contributed to student life at USF. His enthusiasm and energy has had an impact on the SLE office and programs, as well as students and colleagues. Junior Kimberly Kane, incoming Greek Council president and the current events coordinator, said, “Darren is an amazing advisor and working with him was an influential experience. When I found out he was leaving, I actually cried.” Kane has been working with the SLE staff since her freshman year. Many students have expressed that although they are proud to see Pierre pursue his dreams, they are saddened to see him go.
During his time at USF, Darren helped change the club recognition program. This change has inspired the largest number of student organizations in USF history—around 118. Numbers in student involvement and participation have also increased, including homecoming, involvement fairs, and other engagement programs. Pierre also pushed for supporting and involving new fraternities and sororities on campus for the overall common good and growth of student life. Lastly, student leadership itself has grown. It has regained new fresh perspectives over the time Pierre has been involved.
Concerning his own personal accomplishments, he said, “I cannot take ownership for anything; it has always been a collaborative effort amongst staff, students, and the campus as a whole.” Pierre said the growth has been in part to SLE’s use of technology, such as the “Get Involved Tab” on USFConnect.
Pierre received his M.A. in Higher Education from the University of Maryland. Yet, his overall experience and love for what he does came from his time at USF, a community that embraces all people regardless of race, creed and ethnicity. Pierre holds in highest regards the important aspect of living, education, and supporting. Pierre plans to take this lesson with him and speak on its importance.
From his USF experience, Pierre realized he wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in College Student Affairs because it is his passion. “I am going to miss being totally comfortable at work here at USF, and this affirmed me that this is the work I want to always be doing,” he said.
Pierre’s innate ability to build personal relationships has been the most inspiring attribute. His relationships with students and staff has generated a name for the things that Pierre does and says: Darrenism. Darrenism is the phrase that many refer to when certain actions are done around the SLE office.
Chris Culkin, a 2008 USF alumnus, was a campus event coordinator and active participant in Greek Council. Culkin worked directly alongside Pierre for two years and said he enjoyed every minute of it. Culkin said Pierre always inspires people to do more and to be better. Pierre would challenge everyone to find better answers and solutions. Culkin said, “My most memorable time with Darren was when we both attended a conference in Denver, and I did not know how to tie my tie. Darren was like a big brother and tied it for me. He always made me feel like he cared and was always there for me.”
Pierre said, “I will always have a piece of USF in my heart, and the lessons I have learned here have inspired me in all aspects of life.”