Alumni Stories: Darrielle Ehrheart
Director of Ambulatory Operations
Stanford Children’s Health
Bachelor of Science in Management, 2006
“I had tried college in the past and didn’t do well,” said Darrielle Ehrheart, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and director of ambulatory operations for Stanford Children’s Health. “I failed previously because I didn’t have the motivation to sit through class and then go home and do homework.”
After serving in the military for over six years and working in the world of IT for 30 years, Ehrheart — who joined the Marines after high school — was encouraged by a friend to pursue higher education. At the time, she worked as the VP of information technology and administration for a health foundation.
“My friend asked me what my excuse for not going to college was, and that conversation motivated me to take action,” said Ehrheart, who decided to enroll at University of Phoenix, where she later completed her Bachelor of Science in Management, in 2006.
“Before going to college I didn’t get the point [of education] but, overall, the process of learning in an academic setting develops the mind,” she said. “My bachelor’s degree made me knowledgeable in a different way. I can grab end processes in a way that I couldn’t before. I now have a more global understanding of my job, in a better way. Additionally, having a degree added a level of credibility in my dealings with others.”
After completing her bachelor’s, the same friend motivated Ehrheart to pursue an MBA, which she completed at University of Wisconsin, in 2013.
My friend asked me what my excuse for not going to college was, and that conversation motivated me to take action.
Bachelor of Science in Management (2006)
Ehrheart — who, while at high school, built her first DOS system program by herself within five days, to the disbelief of her teachers — had an early interest in computer classes and the electronics field. She later gravitated towards the military, where she learned the basics of data communication and electronics.
“Trying to integrate into the civilian workforce as a veteran is challenging,” Ehrheart said. “The military exposes young people to experiences that a typical 20-year-old would not go through, that sometimes civilians can’t grasp. The military gives you a very strong sense of accomplishment, and it polishes your values of leadership, purpose, honesty and integrity. We are driven towards a greater purpose and think about the team instead of the individual. We also have tenacity. We stick with something. Because of this, we may come across as bold to people who do not understand our background.”
However, Ehrheart believes these are skills that can translate into the career world, and that organizations should take advantage of.
“In my current role, I feel confident,” she said. “I feel my education and personality are appreciated by my employer.”
From experience, Ehrheart advises others to do what excites them. “If you change your mind, that’s okay, too,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that you are failing. You can add value from previous experiences to your new direction. Follow your intuition! You know when you have reached a threshold.”
But, above all, she believes we shouldn’t let people tell us what we can or can’t do.
“Don’t let other people discourage you. You decide if your current role is your lifetime career, or a stepping stone,” Ehrheart said. “I didn’t have a straight trajectory. There were a lot of left turns but, for example, if I hadn’t joined the Marines, I wouldn’t have traveled the path that led me here.”