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Long before he came to Friends University, Danny Darrington knew he was destined to be a music educator.

“I knew I was going to do music. I hadn’t decided on a college, but I knew I was going to college,” said Darrington, who graduated with a bachelor’s in music education in 1999 and a master’s in school leadership in 2004.

As a student at Wichita South High School, Darrington remembers setting his sights on Friends University when he met Dr. Cecil Riney.

“Dr. Riney made a visit to South High. After his visit, I knew I wanted to be a Singing Quaker,” Darrington said.

Although he knew what he wanted, Darrington wasn’t sure he could afford it. It was a tour of the campus that made him change his mind.

“I did not think I could go to Friends because of the cost. I went on a tour of the campus, and there was a football player conducting the tour,” Darrington said. “He said, ‘If you really want to go here, you can.’”

Danny said the helpful University staff guided him through the Admissions and Financial Aid processes.

“They really nurtured me,” he said.

Darrington works as the vocal music teacher at Mayberry Cultural and Fine Arts Middle Magnet School in Wichita – a job he has had for 12 years. He says his first job is that of an overall educator, teaching kids important life and academic lessons.

“I’m just lucky that I’m able to do that through music,” he said.

His success with his students is being recognized far beyond the halls of Mayberry. In spring 2011, Darrington will take about 25 of his vocal students to perform in New York City as part of the Distinguished Concerts International of New York concert series. It was an invitation that was extended to Darrington and his students based on their hard work and strong vocal reputation. The students are working on fundraising projects to pay for the trip, which will cost approximately $1,200 per student.

Darrington’s career ambition is to be the principle of a middle school.

“My long-term goal is to lead a school,” Darrington said. “I’m really passionate about middle school. I really feel like so many issues and decisions are made at that level and age. It’s so important to intervene when we can.”

With that goal in mind, he returned to Friends University to earn a master’s degree in school leadership.

“I knew the place and people, and it was an easy, comfortable fit,” he said. “I knew the program would be strong and solid.”

Through all his success, Darrington said he credits Friends University.

“They have really nurtured me, and the University has had a big part in my success to this point. I do hope to continue in education. And Friends will be directly responsible for that, too,” Darrington said. “The programs are solid. The professors are tops in their fields. It doesn’t get much better than that.”