Lessons learned at Elon have lasting impact on Darrin Smith ’88

By Sofia Campbell, student May 29, 2024

Smith followed his Elon education with a 12-year career in the U.S. Army that prepared him for his current role at chief financial officer.

Like so many Elon alumni, Darrin Smith ’88 begins his story with Elon finding him, not the other way around. “Elon College at the time gave me a chance when I really had no particular plan,” he said. “Being a soldier and officer was my goal but frankly, I did not put the work in during my high school years and was late applying to schools in 1984. But in the late spring the acceptance letter from Elon came and I now had a chance.”

Through the guidance of Elon faculty members like Rudolf Zarzar, Smith decided to major in political science and economics, ultimately leading Smith to tackle tasks that seemed to be at first overwhelming. “He guided and encouraged me that hard work, persistence, organization and asking for help from faculty, staff, peers would make it possible,” he said.

With that advice in hand and to his surprise, Smith was named to the Dean’s List for the first time ever. “That was my first gift from Elon – the engaged faculty, staff and anyone else that would listen were there and really invested in my success,” he said.

Smith was also a highly involved student being a part of the ROTC, a resident adviser, Student Government vice president, as well as being a member of ODK and a founding member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Furthermore, Smith received the ROTC scholarship, Phi Epsilon Alpha scholarship and Economics Department scholarship.