Alumnus Empowers Youth to Soar HighMDC Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee

Photo with Darrell D. Roberts and Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón
Darrell D. Roberts and Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón

Darrell Roberts often considers his days growing up in Liberty City and his accomplished career in aviation. Perhaps that is why despite 40 years of service with the Federal Aviation Administration, he feels his outreach to youth is his greatest accomplishment. “I call our youth the future of today, and I know that if we can reach them, they can attain the same things I have and even more.”

An early participant in MDC’s Cooperative Education program working with the FAA, Roberts showed a gift for the technical aspects of aviation. He graduated from MDC with an associate’s degree in electronics technology in 1975, and went straight to work with the FAA. He has served in numerous management and policy positions, and is currently the technical operations manager of the Air Traffic Control division of the FAA for South Florida. He is also an advisory board member of MDC’s Engineering Board and chair of MDC’s Aviation Advisory Board.

Roberts puts a premium on leadership: “A leader’s job is to tap it, not cap it. We all have talents, and I want to help those I work with reach their greatest potential.” He has created and worked with numerous youth outreach groups over the years, including the FAA Invest in Mentoring internship (FAIM) and Rising Above My Plateau (RAMP), which encourages young women to consider careers in transportation.

“When the leadership at Miami Dade College see or anticipate a need, they address it. They don’t wait for things to happen. The work they are doing is strengthening the community, and there’s no limit to what MDC can do.”

A few of the many professional and service accolades Roberts has won are the Exemplary Dade Partners Award in 2014, Miami magazine’s Best of Miami for transportation in 2012, the National Black Coalition of FAA Employees Ronald E. McNair Award for advocacy in aviation and a special recognition from President Barack Obama for the advancement of STEM education.

Roberts is an ordained minister, and has been married to his wife, Vivian, for 39 years. He has six children and 10 grandchildren.

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