Changing majors, finding a passion for business and ethics and getting married are experiences that have colored recent graduate Darby House’s college journey. She is now graduating with two bachelors’: one in management and another in psychology. Now, she is saying auf wiedersehen to the U.S. and is headed to Germany.
House and her family moved to Phoenix from Alabama when she was six months old. Like many graduates, one of the reasons she chose NAU was the landscape. It also helped that Flagstaff was close enough to visit her family, but far enough away that she was able to develop her independence. House also wanted to make a difference in the world and believed education was an excellent way to do that. When she was fourteen years old, her best friend’s father killed her and her mother, and then himself, and House’s childhood was turned upside down.
“Getting the news was devastating; this influenced my life a lot. It never occurred to me that a father could kill his daughter, and I never wanted that to happen to a child ever again. I helped start the charity Audra’s Angels, a part of Fresh Start. We held a lip sync battle to raise money for a cabin for the girl scouts. I loved putting together the event, and I love public speaking.” House combined her passions for ethics and education to help reduce the amount of tragic violence and felt that this created a significant shift in her passion for ethics. She never wants anyone to live their life unhappily or have their life and happiness taken from them.
“We wanted to create a program that explained the red flags in relationships, and that controlling and abusive behavior is never deserved or acceptable,” House said. “Through the fundraiser and the amazing help of the girl scouts and my parents, we raised about $50,000.”
As a child, House wanted to do something that made people happy. She loved the idea of being the mail carrier because who isn’t happy to receive mail? “Then, I wanted to be the Subway sandwich artist because everyone loves getting food; then, I wanted to become a doctor to help people.” Now, with the experiences of her past and the academic and professional development during her time at NAU, she’s confident she can change people’s lives on a grander scale. “I want to work in ethics in leadership and change people’s working conditions. Ethics has been a passion of mine for years now, so I’d be thrilled if I can incorporate it into my career,” House said.
House’s mother and father, who work as a dentist and lawyer respectively, significantly influenced her ethical development and taught her to take action. “My parents are both incredible people to whom I look up. When they see an issue, they start proposing ideas and solutions. When COVID happened, my mom was actively taking measures to adjust the medical field to the virus to keep patients safe. “My dad also trains and works with athletes for Olympic weightlifting. He pushed for the treatment of underage athletes to be improved and has made significant contributions to the ethics in weightlifting.”
She began her studies as a biomed and psychology major; however, that quickly changed when she took a business class and realized that was her true passion. For two semesters she served as an SI leader for ACC205, working closely with Jane Gilbert, assistant manager of supplemental instruction program at NAU’s Academic Success Centers.
“Whether she was working with students taking BIO 181 or those learning business law (ACC 205), Darby showed up to her SI sessions wearing a huge smile—totally lighting up the room,” Gilbert said. “As a group facilitator, Darby knows what she is doing. She uses questions strategically to walk students through their own critical thinking process. Darby routinely stretches herself and takes on roles that will help her grow. Cheerful, positive and a joy to work with, Darby has been a leader among her peers at NAU and I’m excited to see where life takes her—to Germany and beyond.”
House, who became an SI leader because she wanted to work with people within business and possibly specialize in organizational behavior, considers Gilbert, her supervisor for five semesters, one of her most significant influences at NAU. “She has done a lot to help me improve myself, so I can be a great leader wherever I go,” she said.
House’s time as an SI leader includes some of her favorite memories from NAU, noting how much fun she had working with students, mostly those in their first year, and the satisfaction that came from them understanding a concept or new life skill. “Another one of my favorite moments was when I went to the carnival and the bonfire this year with my roommates, and all my students got to meet my dog,” House said.
A new professional area in the field of ethics opened to her when she went to work for NAU’s new Institute for Public and Professional Ethics in Leadership. Working with Charn McAllister, director of the NAU Institute for Public & Professional Ethics in Leadership, she became immersed in the subject of ethics applied to fields like business.
“It’s true that we sometimes can overlook the impact our students make on our community, but it is impossible not to marvel at all Darby has accomplished during her time here. The mentoring and tutoring she gave her fellow students helped others find success; the dedication she showed to our newly formed Institute for Public and Professional Ethics in Leadership helped it reach more students and alumni,” McAllister said. “The giving nature she displays in everything she does shone through most in the touching and substantial tribute to her lost friend that will educate young girls for decades to come are only just scratching the service of why Darby is such an outstanding graduate and representative of NAU.”
Her work at the institute created some of her proudest accomplishments at NAU. The experiences were many and varied, but creating a website for the new program stands out as a particularly important experience. She noted McAllister as having been a significant influence because he gave her a position that enabled her to work in business ethics and provided her the opportunity to gain valuable experience for her future career.
In the midst of her double major, jobs and philanthropy work, House maintained a long-distance relationship—the couple was married in February 2022 during the middle of her senior year. “We met in high school and managed to do long distance when he left for the U.S. Air Force. Looking back, I would have gotten married early so I could be with my husband during the pandemic, but the whole wedding process was a great experience with event planning,” she said. “The experience influenced my academic career by my being able to go abroad while studying online at NAU. I am now moving to Germany to be with my husband where we will be stationed until 2025.”
House has some ambitious future goals, including consulting for a company (hopefully in the area of ethics), visiting every Disneyland in the world and eventually starting her own business. When she’s not hanging out with her corgi, Pebbles, she’s having fun with one of her many hobbies: rollerblading, volleyball, drawing, archery, painting, rock climbing and bike riding to name a few. “I am good at about ¼ of them. I believe that you don’t need to be good at something to enjoy doing it, and that is a hill I am willing to die on,” she said.
Cynthia Gerber | NAU Communications
(928) 523-7341 | Cynthia.Gerber@nau.edu