Hailing originally from Memphis, Daniel Vaughn, who spent his formative years in Wasco, is a example of someone who overcame the challenges of social and economic adversity, rising from the bottom to accomplish his dreams, and who now is a role model to many youth who find themselves in similar circumstances.
Vaughn credits much of his success to his Wasco High School coaches. "I played basketball and ran track. My coaches influenced me and taught me about being a team player and a leader. They inspired me, seeing how they were so dedicated, giving their time to helping us be the best."
In Memphis, Vaughn faced an upbringing of gangs, drugs and poverty. He saw no way out until one day at school, there was a guest speaker.
"He was a detective with the Memphis Police Department, and he made a statement that resonated with me. He said he used to be just like me when he was younger. I never believed that a person like him, with success, could come from an environment like I was from and make it."
"So, when I got to Wasco, I was ready to seize the opportunity and follow my dreams."
Moving from a large city like Memphis to Wasco was a big change for him. "I felt like it was a good chance to turn my life around. Everybody was helpful, and it was very family orientated. My friends showed me that there was more for me and that I had great potential."
Vaughn is now a deputy probation officer with the Kern County Probation Department. He has been in law enforcement for 10 years. He started as a youth service officer at a youth detention center at Camp Erwin Owen in Kernville.
In 2020, he transitioned into his current role. He said his work is rewarding. "What I enjoy most is making a difference in someone's life other than mine, no matter what age group they are, and attempting to make a change."
"Sometimes youth need advice. They may feel that they can't achieve a goal; they just need that guidance so they can understand that they can be successful."
As a deputy probation officer, he wears multiple hats. "That is one of the biggest things I like about my job: I can be a counselor. I am an officer, but we sometimes must hold people accountable."
Vaughn is also a man of faith. "Since I have grown and realized in life, God would not put you in a situation that you may feel is overwhelming; he has already prepared you for it. The fact that you are in it, you can handle it. You are stronger than you think. You are more powerful than you think. Never give up."
Looking ahead at the type of legacy he hopes to leave behind in Wasco, especially in inspiring the next generation of youth, he said, "It's not where you started; it's where you are going. Don't be discouraged about what you believe because of others' opinions. Follow your goals and dreams, and don't let anybody change those."