By Tina Joly,Media Relations Specialist at Alabama State University
Darian Aaron spends most of his days up in the clouds; but a couple of days a week, he has his feet planted on the campus of Alabama State University.
Over the years, students have commuted to Alabama State University by car, bus, bicycle and foot. But Darian Aaron could be the first ASU student to use an airplane to get to class.
Aaron, a flight attendant with Shuttle America, flies into Montgomery Regional Airport from Atlanta to attend classes at ASU. He said he is able to commute via plane because of a job benefit and his dad, who lives in Montgomery.
“My dad is my personal chauffeur and an amazing father and is there to pick me up from the airport and drop me off on campus. During the summer semester, I've actually had to fly into Montgomery the night before and crash at my parents’ place in order to be on time for an 8 a.m. class on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Aaron said. “As a flight attendant, one of our privileges is the ability to travel for free as often as our schedule allows. This is definitely a perk that I'm taking advantage of on a weekly basis.”
Aaron, a communications major, was born and raised in Montgomery. He said that even though he lives in Atlanta and there are many colleges there, none compare to ASU.
“ASU is a family tradition. My mother, sister, aunts and several cousins have graduated from ASU,” said Aaron. “I practically grew up on campus in the Theatre Department from the age of 11 throughout my senior year in high school. ASU provided my first glimpse into life as a student at an HBCU. It was a no-brainer for me to select ASU for my undergraduate studies.There isn't a single institution in Atlanta that was as attractive or has invested so much in my personal growth over the years as ASU.”
He said it’s worth the extra time to commute this way because of the life experience he is gaining.
“This experience is definitely teaching me persistence, patience and the importance of commitment. While the destination is important, the journey is even more so. This may sound cliché, but anything worth having is worth fighting for,” Aaron said. “People are always amazed when I tell them I commute to another state to attend school. I'm generally confused by their reaction because I simply view it as something I have to do in order to get to where I want to be.”
Aaron said the commute is a win-win for him and for his family.
“The journalism industry can be cut-throat and especially challenging for journalists of color. The communications professors at ASU are constantly preparing journalism students for real-world challenges. I'm able to obtain the education that will prepare me for my future, and I get to see my family more often than I normally would,” Aaron said.
Aaron currently is taking Beginning Newswriting with Coke Ellington, assistant professor of communications media. Ellington said Aaron is an excellent student and that commuting to class by airplane is certainly unique.
"I never heard of it (commuting via airplane) since I started teaching part-time here in 1985 and full-time since 1997, nor when I worked in public relations at Clemson University in the 1970s, nor when I was a student at the University of Georgia in the 1960s. I'm always happy to have another good student, whether that student commutes by air, by car or on foot," Ellington said.
Aaron said one of the benefits of commuting is the friends that he’s made at the airports in both Atlanta and Montgomery. He plans to continue to commute until he graduates.
“But no more 8 a.m. classes for me,” Aaron said with a laugh.