After growing up overseas, mostly in western Europe, James Darling ’10 was looking for a place to call “home” when it came time for college. He found that—and more—at Hampden-Sydney.
“Hampden-Sydney took a chance on me,” Darling shared. “It turned my life around academically. Hampden-Sydney had a profound impact on the trajectory of my life.”
Darling, whose father worked for the Department of State, graduated from an International Baccalaureate high school in Munich, Germany. “I wasn’t a very focused or disciplined student. I was lucky to get into Hampden-Sydney.”
Many of his European friends and their parents questioned why he would want to go to a small, all-male school in rural Virginia. “People either thought I was going to school in Australia or they looked at me like I had two heads,” he laughed.
Initially, Darling’s decision was based on a desire to play football, having played in Germany. But he never set foot on the playing field at Hampden-Sydney. Instead, Darling found his stride in the classroom.
“I had wonderful faculty, incredible classes, and made lifelong friends. What makes Hampden-Sydney special is the people—I can name half a dozen who changed my life.”
One such person was language professor Dr. Dirk R. Johnson. With Darling’s years spent in Europe, he was “functionally fluent” in German which allowed him to take higher level language classes as a freshman. “Dr. Johnson had a real influence on me,” said Darling. “My first year I was reading German literature and writing papers about it. I quickly had to learn the proper way to write. That skill has served me well ever since.”