Enlightening Alumni Among Homecoming VIPs

Published 10.08.2017

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Alumni often attend Homecoming to reunite with classmates, revisit faculty who steered them toward vocational success and unwind among friends before the alarm clock resounds. Graduates of Penn College and its predecessors frequently return for another reason, as was seen this past week: to share life lessons from the working world.

Marchioni thumbs through the manual for a Boeing 767 to impress upon his listeners the awesome responsibility they'll face as professionals.The speaker stands before a newspaper clipping, recounting one of his relief flights from Romania.Marchioni and his wife, Barbara, "board" the Boeing 727 donated to the college by FedEx.Thomas D. Inman, associate professor of aviation, takes Victor F. Marchioni through the hangar for a view of the college's enviable fleet of instructional aircraft.Victor F. Marchioni
As a young man working at a gas station, Victor F. Marchioni recalled for his Lumley Aviation Center audience, he was quite impressed by a repeat customer's blue Corvette convertible. When he discovered that the patron was a welder with the Kellogg Co., he decided that welding was for him.

"This school is what got me started," said Marchioni, who used that 1972 welding degree as a stepping-off point to a decades-long career in the skies.

His illustrious resume includes earning a commercial pilot’s license, enlisting in the Air Force, serving as a C141 flight engineer and a Boeing 747 captain, and flying a number of humanitarian missions – before retiring as a Boeing 767 pilot for UPS.

Through it all, he has recognized the head start on life provided by his WACC degree ... and he told today's students that Penn College will similarly give them a "really nice toolbox' a license to learn."

"I never did get my Corvette, but I got to see the world," he said. "So pick something you like to do and go do it ... because if you like what you're doing, you won't have a job. You'll have a career."


Brandon D. BridgeTimothy S. ShookBrian KellyBrandon D. Bridge and Timothy S. Shook
School of Construction & Design Technologies students were invited to a Friday morning presentation by Brian Kelly, director of architecture at the University of Maryland, who visited with two Penn College alumni now in that graduate program.

Brandon D. Bridge and Timothy S. Shook, who each hold dual degrees in architectural technology and building science and sustainable design, joined Kelly for a presentation in the Student & Administrative Services Center's first-floor presentation room. (Photos by Daniel L. Brooks, instructor of architectural technology)


Joining the group are (from left) McTarnaghan's wife, Patty; Marc E. Bridgens, dean of construction and design technologies; and Rhonda S. Walker, alumni relations specialist.With credibility born of career longevity, the alumnus tells his successors, "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life."The students lead a tour of a carpentry lab, while picking their guest's brain about what college was like for him.Donald J. McTarnaghan (left) talks with Harry W. Hintz Jr., instructor of construction technology; and students Aaron F. White and Patrick J. Kelly, members of the Penn College Construction Association.Donald J. McTarnaghan
"Life has taken me in so many directions" since graduating from WACC in 1966, Donald J. McTarnaghan told the construction students who will follow his career path. If anything, it was an understatement.

Thirteen days after he got his diploma, he was doing airport construction in Vietnam with the Navy Seabees. And he's still in airport construction at age 72, having worked on rental-car facilities at every international airport east of the Mississippi River.

The intervening years have brought a variety of construction experience – with ups and downs, curveballs and immeasurable rewards – and real-world advice that he is more than happy to share.

McTarnaghan's 45-minute reminiscence offered advice for dealing with stress and subcontractors alike, an admonition that success is measured by "how much you've helped people and not by how much money you earn," and a preference for teamwork over individual glory.

"What this institution does is give you a foundation," he said in a Carl Building Technologies Center classroom. "It gives you an understanding of how to think, how to put things together, how to figure things out so they work. It's  not gonna be easy, but it sure will be worthwhile."