Darril Vilbrun took the scenic route to earning his degree at Cheyney University. The Reading, PA, native will graduate this spring with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with a concentration in business and a minor in computer science. He believes his ambition to reach success started – and will persist – because of Cheyney.
Vilbrun first enrolled at Cheyney after graduating high school in 2009. Shortly thereafter, he determined he wasn’t quite ready for college and wanted to explore the workforce. His path led him to join the United States Marine Corps Reserve. After basic training at Parris Island in South Carolina and combat training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Vilbrun found an interest in computers as part of his military occupational skills.
“I was always interested in pursuing a career revolving around computers, but I could never pinpoint my interest until joining the Marine Corps,” said Vilbrun. “The Marines also gave me six years of training and technical skills.”
Taking his skills to the next level led him to Reading Area Community College where he earned an associate degree in computer information systems. Being a reservist kept him free of student loan debt and allowed him to pursue a bachelor’s degree to enable him to fulfill his professional goals.
He rediscovered Cheyney was the university to help him complete his educational goal.
“I took my younger cousin who just graduated from high school on a tour of Cheyney. It was at that moment that the opportunity presented itself again for me,” said Vilbrun. “I met with Jackie Goode in Admissions and that really sparked the interest in returning to the campus where I initially started.”
After speaking with Goode, Vilbrun found additional support after meeting with Jeff Jones, Executive Director of Enrollment Management. Jones provided guidance for Vilbrun to obtain the Board of Governor’s tuition waiver.
Vilbrun said the Board of Governor’s tuition waiver covered everything but room and board. But Cheyney University wasn’t quite through yet offering resources.
“I became a resident advisor, and received a Pell grant to assist with my meal plan,” he said. “Jeff Jones and Jackie Goode saw I was serious about furthering my education.”
Serving as a resident advisor opens many doors at Cheyney and also in the professional world. The resident advisor position offers common work experience that helps students develop management skills, interpersonal relationships, and the ability to carry out projects. The resident advisor staff works closely with campus security and Public Safety to ensure the safety of students living in the residence halls, a perfect fit for a Marine reservist.
“I work with a lot of students and have arranged the tuition waiver for many who perform well academically in high school. Darril Vilbrun is among those who was deserving of this opportunity,” Jones said. “He’s a very focused young man. I have a habit of looking at people and asking them, ‘what are you doing about furthering your education?’ I knew when I met him that he’s a young man of good character. I’m very proud of him.”
Vilbrun clearly appreciates the opportunity Cheyney offered him, commenting more broadly that HBCU’s are an overlooked pathway for those on the journey of higher education.
“HBCU’s develop you more,” he said. “The support is genuine and there’s a unique culture at Cheyney University.”
“I feel I would want to work for Cheyney and be a part of developing it for the future – especially the STEM education programs. Cheyney has name recognition and that means something. The future of STEM education is going to open a lot of opportunities. Cheyney is going to be a part of that.”