Impact: How Your Gift Helps

Brandon Freely '20

Brandon Freely '20

“There’s so many things that I’ve done here that I didn’t think that I would get to do throughout college.”

Design is in the DNA of Brandon Freely ‘20, but it wasn’t until his four years at Marywood that he truly found his passion.

Since an early age, Brandon had always been drawn to design. So, pursuing a degree in architecture was a logical next step.

When it came time to choose a college, Brandon was undecided until an Accepted Students Day won him over. He points to the picturesque campus and friendly people as deciding factors.

“Once I came on the campus here it felt like the right fit. The faculty, especially in the architecture building, were all very welcoming.”

Coming from a small town and high school, Brandon also liked the small class sizes and teacher-to-student relationships.

“It’s a lot more personal than I thought college would be. Coming from high school, they tell you college is not as personal, and you do not have small classes like you do in high school. I didn’t think that was something that I’d have. But it’s definitely a very personal atmosphere here and all my teachers know who I am. I don’t think I would have enjoyed school without that type of environment.”

While at Marywood, Brandon broadened his horizons including studying abroad in Italy and visiting eight other countries on the trip. He has also challenged himself outside of a Marywood classroom.

One such way was through the Disney College Program at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The program allowed Brandon to work in an internship-like setting where he worked in theWalt Disney World parks and took classes through Disney University. Brandon’s favorite part was being able to shadow people in his field at one of the biggest companies in the world.

It was during this time that he began to realize where his true purpose in the architecture and design field was.

“I actually started Marywood as architecture, and it wasn’t until I came back from Disney that I switched to interior architecture because the positions that were more appealing to me were interior design or interior architecture.”

Brandon knows that this life-changing experience wouldn’t have been possible without the support he received from the architecture faculty.

“The professors are great. They’re very willing to work with me especially since my schedule hasn’t been following the typical schedule. They really worked around all the things I wanted to do and make that work.”

The most recent endeavor Brandon took on is one that is close to his heart and one that the Marywood community will know well.

Since an early age, Brandon has designed light shows at his home for the Christmas season. After years of doing this, his town took notice. When he was in high school, Clifford Township approached him to organize a light show for the city.

After years of success with that show, Brandon’s “most-influential” professor Maria MacDonald approached him this past year with the idea to bring it to Marywood. Brandon was immediately interested and so was Marywood’s President Sister Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D., who met the idea with an enthusiastic “of course!”

Brandon spear-headed the light show at the post office, and just like that “Light Up Campus” was born.

The only regret Brandon has is that he didn’t light up campus sooner.

“I’m kind of sad that I didn’t start doing this earlier. Everyone was really open and supportive.”

He said he was satisfied with the first year and hopes that it becomes a tradition that will carry on after his graduation.

The topper for Brandon’s academic year would be the opportunity to have his work on display at High Point Market, which he describes as a “really big deal.”

As his time as an undergraduate winds down, Brandon has grown to be the embodiment of one of Marywood’s core values- service. He plans to continue to give back both to Marywood and the community through community service and his art. Just two days after graduation, he’s off to Ghana on a service trip where he will work with children in school and hopefully paint murals with the students as well.

He hopes his art can leave an impact that lasts long after the trip is over.

“(When) traveling to Africa and studying abroad sometimes language barriers are there, but I feel like art is something that all people can understand and interpret in their own way.”

Brandon’s future is brighter than one of his light displays and his aspirations as lofty as the tallest spire of Cinderella Castle.

"I would thank donors for all the opportunities that Marywood has given me. There’s so many things that I’ve done here that I didn’t think that I would get to do throughout college especially this past year with the light show. I never thought that I would do that here at college, but my experience has been so much more than what’s in the classroom."
"Upon graduation, Brandon would like to get a job working for Disney or another theme park in theme park design. He plans to move to Florida and pursue a master’s degree in the future."

Want to help students like Brandon? Make a gift today to the designation of your choosing! Remember - any gift of any size can make a difference!

Make a Gift

Read more impact stories