Darnishia Slade

  • BS Business Administration 1998

Darnishia Slade ’98 has received a few “callings” over the years. The Detroit native has made a few career shifts, via those epiphanies, before landing as the assistant director of International Programs and Services.

First introduced to Tech through the Minorities in Engineering summer program and legendary recruiter Betty Chavis, she fell in love with Tech.

“It was the exposure of actually being here,” she says. “I was influenced heavily by the counselors, like Derhun Sanders, and enrolled into the electromechanical engineering technology program. I was going to design robots.”

How’d that go?

“Horribly,” she admits. “Thanks to Brad Wagner in the School of Business, he helped me because I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to leave.” She succeeded in the industrial management program, aided by her previous work with General Motors.

“I was going into the auto industry.”

Then the first of those callings. To get some international experience as a student, she angled for Japan, but that study abroad program was unavailable at the time. Instead, she headed to Finland with three Finnish American women.

“I fell in love with the international community, and I was impressed that my peers in Finland could easily speak four languages!” Slade says. “I ended up with an international business minor.”

She was also snagged by the Up with People performance group and spent the next two years traveling throughout the United States, Canada and central Europe. The cast of 130 came from twenty different nations and helped fuel her love of international understanding and experiential learning.

“Everybody did everything. We sang, performed, set up and tore down the stage.”

Soon, she returned to her hometown and worked with youth in a juvenile lock-up facility before moving on to the Mosaic Youth Theater. During her four years there, she also enrolled in a Bible training center after her pastor talked about it: epiphany number two.

“I didn’t know it meant training to be a minister," she laughs. "But it did help me to realize . . . I wanted to work in the mission field or in some way with young people.”

That led to her first Michigan Tech job offer as regional admissions manager for the Detroit area. “I prayed, and God said, ‘That’s what you should do.’”

It was rewarding to talk with students and tell them that yes, they can succeed at Michigan Tech, Slade says. She became an example for them to follow.

And, with her latest role in the International Programs and Services office, she believes she’s truly come full circle, sharing her love of Tech and international travel just as she did as a student.

She’s still a student. She’s entered the PhD program in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors.

“I'll research micro-aggressions and micro-affirmations, how humans interact with other humans,” she says. That’s something of which she is quite qualified.

Slade has one more year left on her term as president of the Alumni Association, too. Her favorite part of that job? "Being of service to alumni and having the opportunity to meet fellow Huskies from around the world. It is an honor to be part of such a rich legacy!"

September 2013 By Dennis Walikainen '92 '09