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Two graduates who work as educators in Harrisburg returned to their alma mater recently as Pennsylvania College of Technology’s 2017 Alumni Sweethearts.
Robert A. and Megan L. (Miller) Brightbill said they were treated like VIPs during their visit, which featured an overnight stay in the college’s Victorian House and dinner in Le Jeune Chef Restaurant as winners of Alumni Relations’ sixth annual Alumni Sweethearts contest.
Conducted on Alumni Relations’ Facebook page, this year’s contest featured 11 alumni couples vying for the Alumni Sweethearts honor. The Brightbills received the most votes (or “likes”) – 299 – for their photograph and caption.
The couple met on Aug. 25, 1991, when they were moving into Campus View Apartments. Robert Brightbill, originally from Lower Paxton Township, graduated from Penn College in 1992 with a degree in building construction technology. Megan Brightbill, a Liberty native, received degrees in dental hygiene in 1993 and dental hygiene: health policy and administration concentration in 2001. They married on Oct. 15, 1994.
For 18 years, Robert has worked as an instructor of building construction technology at Dauphin County Technical School. Megan has been employed for 12 years at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, where she serves as an assistant professor and dental hygiene program director.
“We enjoyed walking around campus when we arrived and trying to retrace our steps, as so much has changed since we were here!” Megan said.
Their walk around campus included a return to Campus View, where Robert lived in the Tiadaghton building and Megan resided in Little Pine. The couple reminisced about the first time they met – during move-in day for the Fall 1991 semester; Megan was juggling boxes and Robert offered to help. The most memorable point of that encounter was when Robert noticed a Mickey Mouse clock atop one of Megan’s boxes and half-jokingly commented that he wouldn’t mind “waking up to that clock some morning.”
A little more than three years later, the couple honeymooned at Disney World.
Of their dinner on Friday night in Le Jeune Chef, a live learning lab for students in the college’s hospitality majors, Megan said, “We enjoyed talking with the students at Le Jeune Chef, and Jacob, our server, was outstanding. Dinner, which was prepared tableside, was fantastic, and we felt like VIPs!”
The Brightbills also appreciated their accommodations in The Victorian House, a structure designed and built by construction students in the mid-1990s.
“The Victorian House was simply gorgeous and very welcoming,” Megan commented. “Bob enjoyed admiring the craftsmanship and detail of the Vic House and daydreamed about doing something similar at Dauphin County Technical School.”
Although Robert graduated before the construction of The Victorian House, he holds fond memories of working on a construction project in the Thompson Professional Development Center as well as numerous community outreach assignments he performed with fellow construction students and faculty members as part of their classwork.
He considered Richard S. Sarginger, instructor of building construction technology, and Richard L. Druckenmiller, who retired last year from the construction faculty, both teachers and friends.
“It’s interesting to think about all of the influences from here that have moved into our classrooms,” Robert said, referring to his and Megan’s careers in education.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Robert began Building Construction Cares, an organization committed to providing Dauphin County Technical School students with opportunities to share their talents in various reconstruction projects. The team annually travels to areas devastated by natural disasters.
Megan, who was featured on the first cover of the college magazine in late 1991, says she is still in contact with some of her former dental hygiene professors and enjoys interacting with them on a professional level.
“I was fortunate enough to have Mary Jo Saxe, Rae Ann Karichner and Sue Wajda as faculty members, and they were all such fabulous mentors,” she said.
As well, she attended college with Shawn A. Kiser, now director of dental hygiene at Penn College. “He has been a great connection for me, and we bounce ideas off one another,” Megan added.
The Brightbills’ advice for current students?
“Study hard. Sometimes you don’t think everything that is being taught to you is meaningful, but it is. Don’t take any of the time you spend during your college years for granted. Have fun, but not too much fun!” Megan said.
When the Brightbills have time for fun, they enjoy golfing and spending time with their son, Jarret, 17, and dog, Benny. Robert is a member and former president of the Lower Paxton Township Lions Club.
For more information on Alumni Relations, visit the office’s webpage.
For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.