It was the summer of 1987 when Darrell S. Freeman walked across the stage earning a bachelor’s degree in computer technology from Middle Tennessee State University. Who knew that 26 years later he would come back and present his alma mater with a check for $100,000?
During MTSU’s 2013 homecoming football game, Freeman and his wife Gloria donated $100,000 to an endowment fund that will provide financial assistance to MTSU students.
Coming from a financially challenging background himself, he knows the importance of scholarships and financial aid to students. A native of Tennessee, his mother was a maid and his father a foundry worker; neither completed high school.
“Both my wife and I came out of college with a lot of debt,” Freeman said. “We both understand financial challenges. However, no matter what background you come from, education is the key to living the American Dream. It’s the great equalizer, and the foundation of economic development.”
The Freeman’s established the $100,000 endowment fund at MTSU that will continuously provide financial assistance to students who share a background similar to his.
As the founder and executive chairman of Zycron, Inc., an international information technology services firm, Freeman has a fervent passion for education. Appointed by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to serve on the Tennessee Board of Regents in 2012, he is committed to education initiatives.
As an MTSU alumnus and current member of the Middle Tennessee business community, Freeman simply hopes to help. In the past 10 years, he has provided numerous scholarships to help assist students continue their higher education, served as the 2008 fall commencement speaker, and this year he was selected to be the grand marshal of the university’s homecoming parade.
“It is very rewarding to be in a position to help others, particularly students whose struggle is so similar to the one I endured,” he said.
Freeman grew up in the Orchard Knob community of Chattanooga, Tenn. Although he lived in a two-parent household, his neighborhood was not the ideal place for a boy with ambitious dreams and aspirations. Amid numerous distractions in his environment, Freeman needed help to stay on the right path. His mentor, Mr. Johnson, worked at the local community center and kept him active through after school activities and sports programs.
He attended Kirkman Technical High School that prepared students for the work force upon graduation, and it wasn’t until he helped a friend move out of his dorm that he discovered MTSU.
“No one in my family had ever been to college,” Freeman said.
When he arrived in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and stepped foot on campus for the first time, Freeman was convinced to become an MTSU Blue Raider for life. After completing his undergraduate education, he went on to earn a master’s degree from the university as well. As an alumnus, he hopes a legacy of giving will make a lasting impact on MTSU and the students who are seeking to pursue their own dreams.