Aspiring Doctor, Organ Donation Advocate
Senior Darrian Arch has known since she was a young child that she wanted to work in the medical field. Her father, Joseph, graduated from Bethel in 1980 — a biology major — and went on to become a prominent dentist in Chesterton, Ind. Her mother was a nurse. So, when it came to choosing what to study in college, she followed in her parents’ footsteps.
“I knew biology was a good fit for me,” says Arch, who interned in Bethel’s cadaver lab, alongside Assistant Professor Vicki DeBolt ’88, D.O., last semester.
Bethel is one of very few colleges its size to have a cadaver lab, offering exceptional medical school preparation.
“It’s one thing to learn things in a book. It’s another thing to experience the human body,” Arch says. “It’s really expanded my knowledge of what actually happens in surgery.”
While taking 18 credit hours last semester — including microbiology, organic chemistry, ecology and the cadaver internship — Arch was also preparing for the Miss Indiana USA pageant. A two-time runner-up, and the 2013 Miss Indiana Teen USA, Arch was elated to win the crown on Oct. 22, 2018. The very next day, her father and biggest supporter unexpectedly passed away of natural causes.
“I won and he was doing fine — at dinner, he seemed fine,” Arch says. “I got up at 7 a.m., called my mom and she said, ‘He’s gone.’ I saw the ambulance leave [the hotel] … it was so surreal.”
Arch received an overwhelming outpouring of love and support — both from her pageant family and her Bethel family. She has turned her grief into determination to make her father proud.
“I know the drive and determination to get up and go every day comes from him,” says Arch, who is managing course work and speaking engagements — sometimes driving to Indianapolis and back on weeknights.
One of her main goals as Miss Indiana USA is to promote her platform of organ donation through a partnership with the Indiana Donor Network. She’s also receiving college internship credit for her work with the organization. This platform is very personal to Arch, whose mother Dawn has been in renal failure and on dialysis for the past six years.
“She is one of the 1,200 people in Indiana on the kidney transplant list,” Arch says.
As a spokesperson, Arch advocates for organ donation in communities, schools and at high-profile events — like halftime of an Indiana Pacers game in February. She also posts about the Indiana Donor Network through her Miss Indiana USA social feeds.
“One person can enhance up to 75 lives and save up to eight lives,” she says. “If I can make an impact [bringing awareness], the Indiana Donor network is perfect for that.”
Arch aspires to be a doctor in Indiana – the state she’s grown up in and loves. “That’s where I hope to stay,” she says. “I want to bring back that good bedside manner … I want to be a doctor to be a doctor — not for the salary.”
Her Bethel education is helping her get there.
Next on Arch’s goal list: apply to Indiana University Medical School, graduate from Bethel (May 5) and compete in the Miss USA pageant in Louisiana, live May 21 on Fox.
BECOMING MISS INDIANA USA
At age 12, Arch competed in her first pageant, the National America Miss Pageant. Her parents have always been very involved in pageant life, ensuring it would be a valuable learning experience for her — and not just about looks.
“It’s always been [about] interviews, what you can do in life,” Arch says.
Arch was crowned Miss Indiana Teen USA in 2013. She went on to compete in the Miss Indiana USA pageant and was first runner-up two times before being crowned in 2017.
“You spend pretty much every day being cautious about what you eat, being in the gym. You do interview prep, staying on top of what’s going on in the community and globally,” Arch says. “Picking out wardrobe is the easy part.”