Commonwealth Journal


January 24, 2012

Daryl Brunner seeking a better life

Somerset — Like many non-traditional students, Daryl Brunner enrolled in classes at Somerset Community College seeking a better life for himself and his family.

“I’ve built homes, worked in factories and done the blue collar thing,” Brunner said. “I realized you can only go so far in that line of work.”

And although he had moved up the ladder in the building business, he couldn’t do anything about the housing slump and was eventually laid off from his job.

At that point, Brunner decided to go back to school.

“I just couldn’t really keep up physically,” he said. “I had gone through the 10th grade and received my GED, but I knew I’d have to take some classes to get anywhere.”

Now, Brunner is fulfilling his dream and will graduate from Somerset Community College in the spring of 2012 with a degree in general occupational/technical studies, a diploma in computer aided design and drafting, as well as and several degree-related certificates. He hopes to move into a management position upon graduation.

“I looked at the market and at what areas I enjoyed working in,” he said. “I really like AutoCAD and the variety of options the degree offers.”

But Brunner, who resides in Somerset, hasn’t been just taking classes and getting by. Instead, he’s already started bidding on projects that have an international reach. For example, when his design professor Eric Wooldridge mentioned a Web site called in class, Brunner raised his hand and told the class he’d already been designing for the site.

The Web site allows individuals from all trade areas to bid on projects that pay various amounts. According to, the site is designed so “employers can hire freelancers to do work in areas such as software, writing, data entry and design right through to engineering and the sciences, sales and marketing, and accounting and legal services.”

Some of the Web site is free for all registered users, while others require a paid account.

“I look for jobs that ask for 3D animation, 3D modeling, 3D rendering, 3DS Max (the software used in making movies like Avatar) and AutoCAD jobs,” he said.

Although he’s just getting started, Brunner had already bid on a logo design for Romani Musicwares and eStoges, an electronic cigarette company. Although he didn’t receive either bid, Brunner said he plans to continue bidding on freelance projects on the side.

“There are about three million people on the site, so it’s really competitive,” said Brunner. “But it’s something I can do for fun on the side.”

“Employers love individuals with initiative and creativity,” says Wooldridge, “and Daryl exemplifies both. The fact that he is aggressively building his resume with practical work experience above and beyond that of the typical educational requirements, will speak volumes to his potential employers of his character and drive. He will make an excellent team member to some company’s design staff very soon.”

Brunner has also applied to the Community College Internship (CCI) program with the U.S. Department of Energy. According to the Web site, the internship program is “designed to encourage community college students to enter technical careers relevant to the DOE mission by providing technical training experiences at the DOE National Laboratories. Selected students participate as interns appointed at one of 13 DOE laboratories. They work on technologies or instrumentation projects or major research facilities related to DOE’s ongoing R&D programs, under the guidance of laboratory staff scientists or engineers.”

Brunner should find out in a few months whether he was chosen for the summer internship.

Through the last year and a half of school, Brunner has been working with the Somerset housing department in maintenance; however, he was laid off just after the Christmas holidays.

“They were under-funded,” Brunner said. “But, it just reaffirmed my desire to complete school. Everyone has been so supportive of my decision to do this – my wife Tina and my boys, and I appreciate their support.”

And Brunner says his sons, Alex (age 11) and Damien (age 9) are two of the biggest reasons he decided to enroll at SCC.

“I hope they can associate something positive with school,” he said. “And I hope that they go on to college and fulfill their dreams at a much younger age than I did.”

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