Faculty spotlight: Darrell Chapman

By Amber Abunassar – [email protected] – Staff Writer | March 25, 2015 |
The 42-year-old Down Under supervisor, Darrell Chapman from Charleston conquered his disability, muscular dystrophy, and continues to share his wisdom.
Growing up, he said he had a personal conflict with his disability.
“I felt most alone in the earlier part of my life because it took a while to come to grips with the fact that I had a disability from birth and I couldn’t understand why,” Chapman said. “If God was such a great and just person, why me?”
He said he overcame those feelings and realized his true strengths.
“I grew out of that, because the limitations I had because of that became small because he gave me a real great mind,” he said. “I’ve never had any problem with any schooling or anything mental.”
He said he does not consider his disability to be a curse anymore and sees it as a blessing.
“He did that for me to draw people’s attention and to help people be better people,” Chapman said.
Chapman said he overcame the struggle by keeping busy.
“I started to put my energy into things that really interested me. By doing that, I didn’t have time to worry about that anymore,” Chapman said.
He said he visited his older sister at UNC Asheville and started to work on campus when he was 15 years old.
He said he worked in the dishroom over the summers.
“I’ve pretty much worked here since I was 15. Before I came to Asheville to live, I worked here over the summers,” Chapman said.
Years later, he said he followed his sister’s path and attended UNCA in 1987.
When Chapman started UNCA he said he felt a sense of culture shock.
“The atmosphere in Asheville is the opposite of what it was in Charleston. I was raised in the predominately black environment and Asheville is the opposite,” he said. “ It’s not predominantly white but it’s not totally black, but I went to an all-black school most of my life and that’s how I was raised.”
However, this experience was not a negative one. He loves learning about everyone and about their experiences. He values patience and enjoys learning the positive aspects of everyone he encounters.
“The campus has always been the cornerstone for me in this town whether I worked here or not,” he said. “The values from all these different students from all these different places has always been exciting and uplifting. That’s probably why I’m still here at UNCA now,” Chapman said.
He said he considers UNCA to be his home away from home.
Chapman said the most exciting part about his job is being a mentor for students.
“Well the most exciting part is seeing students that come in here everyday expecting me to say something crazy to them,” Chapman said, “expecting me to try to help them work through something they’re going through.”
He said being there for students makes his job easier and enjoys making students feel more than just a customer or a student.
Emma Pyron is a junior psychology student from Hickory and said Chapman is a very good person and he knows how to always brighten her day by simply having a casual conversation.
She said Chapman is a very good listener.
“I value that because I think I am, too, and I’m a psych major so I’m going into counseling so I value that in a person,” Pyron said. “It is something important to do so you can learn about other people, you gotta listen.”
As the manager of the Down Under, he also enjoys being there for his employees as well.
“Usually a person who really listens to you become more than just your boss or somebody you work with,” Chapman said.
MiKayla Payne, Down Under co-worker and sophomore new media major from Charlotte,  said Chapman genuinely cares about everyone who walks through the doors at Down Under.
Payne said working with him is really nice because everyone loves him. She said he is always in a good mood, always happy and ready to go, and it is difficult to tell when he is in a bad mood.
She said he is absolutely a great mentor for students and staff.
“His outlook on life is interesting and so wise. He’s been here for over 30 years,” she said. “He’s got a few years of experience as far as his life goes.”
Chapman said he likes to be there for students and others who are around him.
“I can remember when students come in here and tell me the week before that they have problems with a test, problems with their housing or how they have problems with their funding,” he said. “Anything you tell me, I remember.”
He said he has filled a variety of roles from working in the cafeteria to being a disk jockey for school events.
“I had become a part of the UNCA community, not only being a student but I worked for the campus, I worked for the foodservice, like I still do,” Chapman said. “I’ve DJ’d for a number of clubs, I think I have DJ’d for every sorority, every fraternity that’s on this campus, almost every club,” he said. “I’ve even DJ’d for Underdog Productions.”
Payne said Chapman’s dedication to UNCA is very admirable because he stayed with the same university for so many years as a student and as an employee.
“I feel that everybody should have that one place where it’s like ‘Yes! I would do anything for those people!’ so I think that’s really cool that he found that here.” Payne said.
Chapman said he would like to be remembered as the nice man from UNCA who listened to people’s life stories. He said he cherishes all the cultures he has experienced through all the people he has encountered.
“The stuff that I’ve learned from all the people who’ve come through these doors over the years I’ve been here, learning these things from all these different cultures are priceless,” Chapman said.