Meet Daphne B.

Early Childhood alumna

“You’re never too old or too young to pursue your dreams.”

Daphne Barber, who graduated in 2023 with an Early Childhood associate’s degree, is a study in perseverance.

Daphne graduated from Albany High School in 1987 with hopes of simply being able to care for her then two-year-old daughter. As many do right out of high school, she initially tried to attend Hudson Valley, but the pressures of being a mom and the need to pay her bills always seemed to take precedence over her studies.

“When I started out on this journey, I was a single mom of a two-year old daughter named Shatoya. I completed my high school diploma on time with my class. I knew I wanted to go to college but I had no clue as to what direction to go in,” she said.

Years passed, and Daphne continued to work and provide for Shatoya. “I was living day by day and basically just surviving, working and sometimes working two jobs at a time,” she said.

She would return to HVCC for several semesters over the next decade, but she lacked confidence, direction, and when she didn’t apply herself, she eventually would drop out - the dream of a college degree fading into the distance.

But Daphne’s perseverance paid off. By 2006, she was married to her husband, Charles, and she gained a daughter, Chanaya. In 2008, she gave birth to another daughter, Shamairah, and when Shamairah was 8 months old, Daphne found a new career – working with children in a day care center.

“Working in childcare is where I developed my passion for being a role model for children,” she said. “I think it just clicked that I could have an impact on these children’s lives.”

It also gave her a renewed desire to return to college. With a growing family and a full-time job, it still wasn’t easy, but now Daphne had the commitment she had earlier lacked. In 2011, at age 41, she completed Hudson Valley’s Teaching Assistant certificate program, and at that point, she thought “maybe it’s time to stop here.”

Nope. Now she was hooked, and now, she said, she really enjoyed her classes – seeing the educational theory that she learned at HVCC play out and make her a better teacher and a better mentor in her own daycare classrooms. In 2017, she began working at the Henry Johnson Charter School – she calls it her “dream job” – and she made the commitment to complete her associate degree.

“I had 6 or 7 classes toward my degree left and I knew I had to finish,” she said. “I can’t believe I finally did it, completing my degree at 53 years old. It proves you’re never too old or too young to pursue your dreams!”

What Daphne seems most proud of, however, is not her own accomplishments; it’s knowing that her daughters all look to her now as a role model for setting a goal and accomplishing it.

Thirty-four years after she first arrived on the Hudson Valley campus as a student, she will proudly walk across the stage as a graduate. And she’s not done yet. With associate’s degree in hand, she’s considering her next steps, and the pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, starting this fall.

“My children and my grandchildren are my inspiration, and I’m proud of all of them. I want my daughters and my grandchildren to know that, with God, all things are possible. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, if you apply yourself and believe that you can do it, you will achieve it!”