A Blast from the Past
Daniel Bilenko attended Hiwassee College in 1992-1993. A native of Switzerland, he came to Hiwassee to play basketball for Coach Rick Hughes. He is a journalist for the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and is currently in the U.S. working on an assignment.
Hiwassee College Classes of 1993 and 1994, how many of you remember Danny Bilenko? Let met refresh your memory. Danny was a tall, good-looking kid who came to Hiwassee all the way from Ticino, Switzerland. He played basketball, helped out in several theatre productions and was always a pleasant person to be around. Ring any bells? I know several of you are currently going, “Oh yeah, I remember him!” For the rest of you, get out your yearbooks and look him up. You’ll see his smiling face as part of the basketball team.
Danny, or Daniel as he is now known, was only at Hiwassee College for one year. Head Basketball Coach, Rick Hughes, discovered him at a basketball camp in Pittsburgh, PA. Coach Hughes liked what he saw and recruited him to play at Hiwassee College. Daniel loved the pastoral setting and the warm welcome he received at Hiwassee College but Madisonville, TN is a long way from Switzerland. He missed his family and friends terribly, so when it was realized that he would not have a future career in basketball, he decided to move back to Switzerland to finish his education.
Daniel went on to study at the University of Geneva in Switzerland and later at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. He holds degrees in English and Philosophy. Daniel lived in Geneva for a time while working for a theatre company. In 2001, he moved back to his hometown of Pregassona in Ticino, Switzerland. He began working as a television and radio journalist for SRG SSR, which is known in English as the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. Daniel started out as an on-air journalist but now works as a live debate moderator on the local, national and international scene.
In Ticino, Daniel met and married his wife, Marusca. They have been married for 10 years and have two children. Their oldest son, Yann, is six and their son, Emil, is seventeen months.
Daniel is in the United States working on an assignment for SRG SSR. In an interview, he stated, “I am writing a series of radio portraits of U.S. citizens through their voices and sounds of their lives. It will showcase everyday America but each portrait will have an underlying issue such as healthcare or education.”
When asked how it feels to be back at Hiwassee College after 20 years, Daniel said, “It feels warm and nice. I am very happy to be welcomed by so many after all these years. It is nice to see several friendly faces that were here when I was a student and also meet many new people who are now the faces of Hiwassee. Not much has changed, and in a way, that is comforting.”