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Darnall named ACE Student of the Year

Student transforms military training into successful college career.

By Nathan Solheim

February 22, 2018

Justin DarnallWhen Justin Darnall served in the Marines, he learned how to take apart C-130 engines. While he worked on aircraft all over the world, his experience would pay dividends right here at MSU Denver.

How? Darnall used credit recommendations from the American Council on Education to turn his military training into course credit. In fact, Darnall was so successful with the program, he was named a 2017 ACE Student of the Year.

ACE’s College Credit Recommendation Service and Military Evaluations are forms of credit for prior learning. The programs evaluate employers' workplace education and training programs, military courses and occupations, and recommend academic credit when that learning is college level.

“ACE set me up for success as a civilian before I even became a civilian,” said Darnall. “Without the credit recommendations from all of the high-level technical training I received in the military, I would not be where I am today in my career and academic ambitions.”

Darnall, a senior aerospace systems engineering technology major in MSU Denver’s Individualized Degree Program, will travel to Washington, D.C., to accept the award in March and also will receive a $1,000 scholarship. Elizabeth Parmelee, director of the IDP program, and Paul Cesare, an assistant director of admissions who nominated Darnall for the award, will travel to Washington as well.

“By using military training as course credit, Justin has been able to build a targeted degree in our Individualized Degree Program,” Parmelee said. “It should help him realize his goal of obtaining a job in the aerospace industry after graduation.”

Darnall’s path to MSU Denver included eight years of military service in the Marines across the globe, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti. The first time Darnall, who’s from Lakewood, says he used ACE credit recommendations was to apply for FAA approval to work on civilian aircraft.

After bouncing around a few schools, Darnall landed at MSU Denver, where he’s taken off as a student with a 4.0 GPA and participates in many of the University’s aerospace activities. He also serves on MSU Denver’s Student Government Assembly.

“I utilized [ACE] as well as I could,” Darnall said. “We all paid our tax dollars to send me to school, so it doesn’t make sense to make me do it all again.”

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