Getting two free years of college is an incredible opportunity that doesn’t fall into everybody’s lap.
North Seattle College student Jessica Darlington has seen the work that must be done to repair the Earth’s environment and has resolved herself to be part of the solution. Now in her second year at North, Darlington is taking advantage of the Seattle Promise to help make school affordable as she pursues her dreams of working in environmental research and someday helping to shape legislation that will reduce pollution and save the Pacific Northwest environment she loves.
A graduate of Ballard High School and a member of the Earth Service Corps, Darlington has spent much of her young life enjoying the natural beauty of the Northwest. “I’ve always had a love for the outdoors and exploring outside, that’s my favorite place to be,” she says, “And learning about the level of pollution, environmental damage and global warming we’re experiencing now just breaks my heart. It hurts to see this place I love so much being destroyed by humans, and I want to do my part to slow that down, maybe even stop it.”
A soft spoken but passionate advocate for the natural world, she plans to study Environmental Science at Western Washington. But first, she’s looking forward to getting her AA at North before transferring, with tuition support from the Seattle Promise. While she hadn’t necessarily planned on attending community college from the start, the more she learned about Promise during her senior year of high school in 2020, the more it appealed to her.
With graduation approaching, Darlington had her heart set on attending Western Washington University, where she had already applied and been accepted. But when a teacher gave a presentation on the Promise program, it inspired her to follow up with him after the class. While she was intent on going to WWU, her teacher urged her to look further at Promise as a means to save money and get college experience before attending her school of choice.
“Getting two free years of college is an incredible opportunity that doesn’t fall into everybody’s lap,” she says, “Financially, it was a great opportunity, because otherwise I would have had to take out student loans trying to pay for college by myself, and I would have graduated with this debt that could follow me maybe for the rest of my life.”
On top of this, the pandemic raging around her made her apprehensive of moving to Bellingham and being away from her parents and younger brother. “To be able to attend school online during the pandemic and keep my family safe is super important. I felt like it was a really lucky situation to be in at that time.”
Today Darlington is hard at work completing her coursework at North with plans to graduate at the end of the ’21-’22 school year. At that point she expects to transfer to WWU to complete her degree, and then, hopefully, begin a career in environmental conservation. “My dream job would be out in the field collecting data, whether that be of air pollution, measuring CO2 levels, out on the ocean...and then being able to take that data and make it more digestible for the average person.”
A hint of steel enters her voice as she continues, “I could see even taking that data to a more political science-oriented field where I could help pass legislation and make new laws and regulations for the companies doing the most polluting. I’d really like that.”