Darren Perron, the award winning WCAX news anchor and Castleton State College alum, is set to step out from behind the camera and return to campus as this year’s commencement speaker.
“I’m thrilled to return to Castleton. It keeps getting bigger, in a good way, and better. I am grateful President (Dave) Wolk asked me to join you,” Perron said.
The 1995 graduate has received numerous awards and nominations for his reporting including an Emmy, a dozen Associated Press awards, and a GLAAD nomination. In 2010 he spent two weeks in Afghanistan reporting on the war and his coverage contributed to the stations VAB Broadcaster of the Year award in 2011. Perron was also named one of New England’s top investigative reporters by the National Television Academy.
Because of these accolades, when it came time for Wolk and the senior class officers to select a speaker for this year’s ceremony, Perron was an obvious choice.
“I’ve always admired Darren,” said Wolk. “I’ve known him a long time and I’m very proud of him.”
According to senior class Vice President Erica Bilodeau, the officers considered abandoning the idea of a commencement speaker to save time and money. However, it was decided that the tradition was too important to the graduates and their families to overlook.
“They were unanimous about Darren,” Wolk said of Bilodeau and her fellow officers.
Bilodeau said his numerous accomplishments and former Spartan status made him so appealing.
“Having a Castleton alumnus return to Castleton to speak to current students is the best way to motivate them and encourage them that they have as good of an opportunity to be successful as anyone,” she said.
As a rural Vermont native, Perron said CSC was everything he was looking for in a college. He said the small class sizes and easy accessibility to faculty helped him to develop valuable skills that have contributed to his success.
“There are several CSC professors who gave me the guts to go for a career in journalism,” said Perron. “In different ways, they helped build the confidence it takes to get into this business.”
Among these stand out professors was Bob Gershon, who recalled Perron as a strong student and said he continues to use Parron’s work as examples and ways to inspire students in his classes.
“I don’t think there was a single person in any of his classes who didn’t understand the contributions he made to those classes,” Gershon said.
Aside from his hard work in the classroom, Perron also attributed much of his success to taking advantage of his WCAX internship opportunity. The experiences he gained through interning made him stand out and helped to polish the skills he had attained in his classes.
“Ask how you can help, what you can write, if you can shoot, edit, and follow crews in the field. You’ll learn if you like it. You’ll impress the bosses. You’ll have a leg up on a lot of your classmates who didn’t find internships,” he said.
According to Gershon, Perron’s work ethic and natural talent for reporting played a major role in his success.
“It only happens, I think, when you have someone with both an inherent ability and the willingness to work hard to hone that talent,” he said.
Perron said he is eager to return to his alma mater and honored to speak to graduates as they prepare for their futures.
“I hope I can leave graduates feeling proud, excited and ready for their next chapter,” he said. “I hope to entertain their parents, since many of them footed the bill over the last several years.”