The ninth child of a single mom, she will be the first in her family to earn a college degree. Darling Handlos grew up in Nicaragua and came to Bellevue in 2000 because her mother had moved here. In June 2014, Handlos, who is 33, became an American citizen. Today, one of her driving motivations is to help immigrants escape poverty and obtain an education.
When she first arrived, she took ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, earned her general equivalency degree (GED) and after having her first child, she stayed home for 10 years. In 2010, she attended a community college to earn her paralegal studies degree and currently works full-time as a paralegal in a private firm. Previously, she worked for a nonprofit, Justice for Our Neighbors, whose mission is to welcome and help immigrants. Handlos’ work there and being an immigrant herself inspire her to want to go to law school.
“I strongly believe that our experiences – our life story – equips us in our personal mission to love, inspire and serve others,” she says. “That’s where my true joy comes from.”
Today, Handlos juggles her family responsibilities, work and school at Creighton. This pre-law student is pursuing her Bachelor’s in Leadership Studies (BLS) degree. When she first thought of attending Creighton, she had heard that students with a GED or classes from a community college do not make it at Creighton. “I thought I was way out of my league here,” she says, but Laurie Galeski in admissions at the time, changed her perception – and Handlos is so glad that she did.
She’s now involved in the nontraditional student union as the social media and community service coordinator, is a member of the Alpha Sigma Lambda honor society and a peer mentor for an adult learner course, Making the Transition to College: Strategies for Degree Completion.
“I love being a part of the Ignatian family,” says Handlos. “I love the mission of Creighton. I live it. St. Ignatius is one of my inspirations.”