In memoriam: Darren Bradford Hankins, a junior majoring in theatre arts and member of wrestling team
Darren Bradford Hankins, a junior majoring in theatre arts in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and member of the Virginia Tech wrestling team, died July 2 in drowning accident in Blacksburg. He was 21 years old.
A card has been placed in the front lobby of the Merryman Center for those who wish to send their condolences to the family. A memorial service will be held on Thursday, July 10 at 11 a.m. at the First Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia, and is open to the public.
Darren was born on Dec.22, 1992, the youngest of three children to David and Priscilla Hankins.
He attended Southeastern Elementary School, Hickory Middle School, and graduated Hickory High school in 2011.
From an early age, Darren distinguished himself as a critical, deep thinker who did not settle for the status quo or the conventional answers. Children are known to ask the question “why,” but Darren took his inquisitive nature to another level.
His second grade teacher once commented, “Darren asks the most interesting questions that I never thought about. He is definitely not a follower. I can’t wait to see what he grows up to become.”
This became a recurring theme from other teachers who taught Darren. Some were intrigued by his questions, while others were exasperated to say the least because Darren would not be denied an answer, even when someone said “I don’t know”.
Over the years, Darren developed many interests in chess, orchestra as a violinist, weightlifting, videography, organized sports to include baseball, football, basketball and his preferred sport of wrestling.
He perfected his work ethic in wrestling to the point that he became highly accomplished, winning tournaments, regionally, district wide, and nationally, when he placed fourth in 2011. In his senior year in high school, he ranked number one in the Southeastern District and competed for the AAA State Championship in Virginia and took second place.
As Darren contemplated colleges, he had many to choose from and was offered scholarships at Old Dominion University, George Mason University, and Appalachian State University. He decided on Virginia Tech because of the philosophy program curriculum, wrestling program, and the college town atmosphere of Blacksburg.
He started out as a philosophy major which was not surprising due to his endless quest in search of answers to life’s perplexing questions. He later changed his major to theatre arts in his junior year and began to amass a body of work in videography and the visual arts .
As Darren progressed in college, so did his spiritual growth. He loved the campus ministry, studying the Bible, and winning souls for Christ. He loved engaging people in dialogue.
Darren would have started his senior year at Virginia Tech this fall.
He is survived by his parents David and Priscilla Hankins, his brother D. Bernard Hankins Jr., his sister Dara Hankins, his grandmother Ida Hankins, four aunts, four uncles, and countless cousins. He is preceded in death by his grandmother Bishop Salina Ross and grandfather Columbus Hankins.
Darren believed “Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions”. -Marianne Williamson
This story was provided by the Hankins family.
Those in the university community who may wish assistance or desire counseling support may contact:
- Cook Counseling Center at 540-231-6557
- Dean of Students Office at 540-231-3787
- Office of Housing and Residence Life at 540-231-6205
- Hokie Wellness at 540-231-2233 (students) or 540-231-8878 (employees)
- Employee Assistance Program
- Anthem at 1-855-223-9277
- Aetna at 1-888-238-6232
- Kaiser Permanente at 1-866-517-7042
- Referrals to a campus cleric may be done through the Dean of Students Office at 540-231-3787.