Byron Dejarlo is a veteran, an immigrant, a father and a non-traditional student at the University of Arkansas.
He’s studying to become a technology teacher through the Career and Technical Education program. He wants to help prepare students for life after high school, including those who don’t plan to attend college.
Byron immigrated to the United States from the Philippines when he was a young boy. He was raised in Oden, Arkansas. After high school, he joined the Navy.
“As I trained and educated peers in the military, I found that I enjoyed teaching people skills that will enhance their careers and their lifestyle,” he said. “I also met many different people who thought college was the only way forward to a stable career.
“I found that I enjoyed talking to those people about different options that were available to them.”
As a technology teacher, Byron wants to help students work on computers or electronics. He also wants to teach them how to build and repair things with their hands and basic tools.
“In the future, I hope to become a school counselor and mentor, to help students plan their path ahead,” he said.
Between schoolwork and being dad to two daughters, Byron is also known as the family handyman.
“I own a home that I regularly fix. I have a car that I tinker with. I also help family members with fixing household or automotive problems, if I have time outside of classes,” he said.
He said being a non-traditional student has been a mixed bag.
“It can feel alienating being older than the average student, being a veteran, having a family, and having experienced many different things,” he said.
Getting connected to other non-traditional students has helped, he said. Support from the instructors in his College of Education and Health Professions program have also been essential to his well-being. Byron is also plugged in to the Veteran Resource and Information Center on campus.
Overall, he’s enthusiastic.
“I feel lucky, happy, and energized that I’m able to attend classes at the University of Arkansas and learning about what I want to do as a career,” he said. “I have always been a Razorback fan and I always dreamed of going to school at the U of A so I could call myself a Hog.”
This story is the latest in a series called the Dean’s Spotlight, featuring outstanding students in the College of Education and Health Professions. Visit COEHP’s online magazine, Colleague, for more news from the six units that make up the College. Visit the Curriculum & Instruction page for more information on COEHP’s Technology Education program.