Her time to shine: first-generation college grad aspires to become a CFO

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Darlena Buford

The seventh of 10 children, HFC student Darlena Buford is the first person in her family to obtain a college degree.

When she was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society at HFC, her entire family attended the ceremony.

“That was a very proud moment for me,” said Buford, of Sterling Heights.

A 1999 alumna of Redford High School in Detroit, Buford will graduate this spring from HFC, earning her associate degree in business administration.

“I was staying with my sister in Dearborn when I decided to attend HFC because it was the closest to her house,” said Buford. “After moving into my own place in Sterling Heights, I had already built such a good relationship with the College that I didn’t want to end it.”

HFC makes lofty career goals possible

Buford – who works as an appeals and grievance specialist for Molina Healthcare in Troy – will transfer to Oakland University in Rochester Hills this fall, where she will major in finance. She also plans to get an MBA. Her aspiration is to become a chief financial officer (CFO).

“I was inspired by my former job as a payroll clerk for the Detroit Police Department ,” she said. “It was there that started my love for calculating numbers. With that knowledge, I saw what was the highest position possible in my field, and that’s how I decided to reach for a CFO position. That would’ve been an impossible dream, but attending HFC made that dream possible.”

As a non-traditional student who works full-time and lives about an hour away, Buford found that HFC met her needs. She attended the College on several scholarships, including the Allan Copley Scholarship.

Her time to shine

Buford’s mentor at HFC is Shai James-Boyd, Assistant Director, Advancement and Alumni Relations. Buford sees James-Boyd as a role model.

“Her abilities to encourage and assure me of my decisions are incomparable,” said Buford. “To see someone of my color become as successful as she is gives me hope for the future.”

James-Boyd recognizes the hard work it took for Buford to earn her degree.

“Darlena represents strength and tenacity. Her passion for education is why I am committed to helping students succeed at HFC. Darlena works full-time, volunteers in her community, and still finds time to mentor her young nieces. This is her time to shine, and I am proud of her many accomplishments,” said James-Boyd.

For Buford, attending HFC was has been a great time in her life. She spoke about this in a video presentation during the January 2021 State of the College meeting (she appears at 3:00).

“HFC has played a tremendous part in who I am and who I am going to be. It’s provided me with a strong foundation comprised of knowledge and life skills,” she said. “I am confident while speaking publicly. I am confident in my decisions that I make because HFC has taught me to research and study before giving answers. With my new study habits, I am able to speak on any subject with confidence.”

Darlena Buford speaks to the Henry Ford College faculty and staff at the kickoff of the new HFC Alumni Association in January, 2021. (She speaks at 3:00).

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