Since occupying the Adams State University Marvel House, the president’s house, David and Darin Tandberg have been committed to connecting on a personal level with the campus and greater community. Their great story began at Adams State and they are dedicated to paying it forward.

Like many alumni couples, they met as students. When President David Tandberg, Ph.D., first saw Darin, “I thought, ‘who is that girl?’” Darin Tandberg remembers being impressed with David’s energy and enthusiasm. “He seemed outgoing and up for anything.”

Their mutual attraction eventually led to marriage and a family. Their personal history as married students with young children inspired them to establish a scholarship for Adams State student parents. To be eligible for the Dr. David & Ms. Darin Tandberg Scholarship, students must be registered full-time; preference will be given to students who are parents; and students must remain in good academic standing.

Bryce, Kai, David, Darin and Allyson Tandberg
Bryce, Kai, David, Darin and Allyson Tandberg

As a student, David was president of Adams State Associated Students and Faculty (AS&F) the student government organization. He was on the go with activities, meetings, and, of course, academic classes. “I was busy but made time to socialize with the larger group of friends that included Darin.” This meant late night became the time for fun and adventure. The pair, often with others, would head to the Alamosa Daylight Donuts at 3 a.m.; drive to Pueblo for IHOP pancakes; or hike up to Zapata Falls (a natural waterfall located back in a small cave in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range). David, an avid outdoorsman and technical climber would repel down the frozen waterfall.

“I was not only busy on-campus, I also worked two to three jobs but dating and getting to know Darin was important to me,” President Tandberg said.

As a student, Darin took classes full-time and worked at Rex Activity Center on campus.

The close friendship turned romantic on the way back from Manassa, after dark on a rainy highway. “I drove really crappy cars, so I suggested Darin follow me in case I broke down.” Darin pulled behind his parked car a few miles outside of town. However, when she opened his car door nobody was in the driver’s seat that is when David popped up from the backseat.

Darin quickly recovered from the surprise and took the front seat. The two sat and talked for at least an hour, David seated in the back, Darin in the driver’s seat. Acting on impulse, David leaned forward for a quick but meaningful first kiss.

Their conversations were their true connections, and the team continue to work together to build their future as well as goals for Adams State. “Our talks were emotional and often heavy, serious topics,” Darin said. “We spoke of personal decisions, school goals, life ahead, and past decisions. David had ambitions, goals, and plans; but he could still be goofy and fun.”

Once they realized they were interested in a committed relationship; they were soon engaged and married and forced to figure it out. Neither had money; and when their first child was born, they had no “grown-up” furniture, making due with camp chairs, and a turned-over laundry basket that doubled for a table.

David, who worked for a local cabinet maker, began making furniture, a bookshelf, stool, microwave stand, and table; he worked on the furniture in the evenings. “It didn’t seem a hardship,” President Tandberg said. “We were surrounded by others in the same situation, poor, starting families, working, and going to school full-time.”

The young couple pooled resources with their Faculty Housing neighbors. “We all shared babysitting duties and made the best of what we had,” Darin added. One holiday season they were out of money and a generous fellow church member gave them $500, which they lived off; and Darin’s parents, who lived nearby, were always willing to invite them for a meal.

David sold precious books and climbing gear. They figured it out, and continued to do so when after graduation, they moved sight unseen to Pennsylvania, for David’s doctorate program. “We have done a lot in life; it was a good way to start out.”

Their challenges and successes made them a tight and close couple. “We are each other’s biggest supporters,” Darin and David agreed.

From this intimate perspective the Tandbergs established the scholarship to support student parents. “We understand the struggle of budgeting with little money or resources. It’s hard, you are often up at night doing homework and babies need a lot of attention,” the Tandbergs commented. “We encourage student parents to hold on when they are feeling overwhelmed. To try and find a community of support. It does help to find other student parents to commiserate with and there are actually a ton of resources on campus and in the community.”