Journalism, PR (Public Relations)
Minor in Spanish and Nonprofit Leadership
Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas
Currently: Platform Strategist at a global marketing solutions agency
Self-described: Optimistic, excited, caffeinated
Enjoys: Playing tennis and learning accordion. I’m not great at either (yet), but have lost my trepidation over trying new things for fear of looking silly - I love both!
There’s not one perfect plan, or one way you “should” do things.
Tell us about yourself!
The motto in my house was “get straight As so you can get scholarships and go to college.” My parents made it sound easy, and so in a way it was - my sister and I focused on getting as many As as possible, and applied for as many scholarships as possible, and I’m happy to report - more than a decade later - I made it through college and got a Master’s degree.
I’m a first-generation college student, and a fourth-generation Mexican American. My parents were incredibly supportive, and I felt free to major in what I loved. That said, we certainly didn’t have a ton of money - or any extra that could pay for college.
One thing I want to say right out of the gate is...
Greatest source of inspiration in college
I had always been told that getting a great job that paid well would take a college degree. Once I discovered journalism and public relations, I had no doubt this would be a career I loved - and achieving that dream meant having at least a bachelor’s degree.
How did other people help you get to where you are today?
If this were an awards show, I’d have so many people to thank they’d turn on the music and push me off the stage before I could finish! I didn’t realize it at the time, but every teacher who encouraged me to join a club, to try studying abroad, wrote a letter of recommendation for me, my aunt who took me to my first volunteer opportunity and taught me about getting involved in the community - they were all steps in my journey to get to where I am today.
Major / Minor
Journalism, PR / Spanish, Nonprofit Leadership
Master of Science: Strategic Communication
Study abroad! I was so nervous to study abroad - I had never really left Kansas other than a couple of small roadtrips to visit family. Studying in Querétaro, Mexico, ignited my passion for living and traveling everywhere.
Least favorite thing
This one is easy to see in retrospect, but would have been difficult for me to see at the time. My least favorite thing was how busy and burnt-out I made myself. I thought it was important to be the President of as many clubs as possible, to work three jobs on campus, or do anything that I thought would make my resume more impressive. Doing some of that was important, but I did so much that my physical health took a toll. It took many years for me to realize that I could (and should) balance my career ambitions with keeping my body healthy. That’s my new definition of “having it all.”
What advice would you give to your freshman-year self?
My biggest piece of advice is that you don’t need to have it all figured out. There’s not one perfect plan, or one way you “should” do things.
Just keep taking it one step at a time, and follow whatever is interesting to you. Did an advisor recommend a club? Go to a few meetings and see who you meet. Saw a flier for Salsa Dancing Club and got excited, but you’ve never salsa danced? No problem, half the people there never have either.
When there’s a day you feel overwhelmed, over-stressed, or just at a loss, get some sleep and eat something wholesome. And then try something interesting to you - it will suddenly all feel a lot more manageable, and you’ll be that much closer to getting your degree.
Best advice you received?
I wish I could remember where I got this advice, but it’s so good I want to share it.
Memorize this mantra: “What if it were easy?”
Anytime I have a problem that’s stressing me out, or a challenge that just seems like there’s nothing I can do to meet it, I ask myself this question: What if it were easy?
Through that one simple question, I can often find the best solution. That’s not to say that everything in life is easy, but sometimes you can trick your brain into thinking of a new solution by wondering, “... what if this were easy?”
Have a giant research project looming on a topic you’ve never studied? Well, if you’re good at research, know how to use the library, and love writing, this project might actually come easy to you and that’s okay.
Is your boss at work mad about something that seems really obvious to you? It might seem “easy” to simply have a conversation where you explain your point of view - and it’s that “easy” solution your boss needs.
The idea of “what if it were easy?” applies to so many situations, and has saved me hundreds of times.
What's your secret for time management and productivity?
Just one: a “To Do” list. That’s it. I was wasting a ton of energy worrying that I’d forgotten to look in my other planner, or hadn’t looked at a class’s agenda in too long. Once I decided to put everything into one “to do” list, I couldn’t believe what relief I felt.
Put everything you’re accountable for in one ‘to do’ list, and then look at it for 5 minutes each morning to decide what absolutely has to get done today. Sometimes it’s one big thing, sometimes it’s 25 things and you realize you need to re-prioritize your schedule.
That one simple trick ensures I never miss a deadline, and I’m able to schedule plenty of time for me to relax, cook, and exercise - instead of always feeling like “But I’m not done yet!”
How do you de-stress?
I love to cook. And I love yoga. Find whatever you love to do, and make time for it.
This book will teach you how to interview, how to talk about yourself, and how to find the right job. Read it now, and then again once a year.
You can do it. Whatever your goal is, don’t let anyone tell you “you can’t” or “why do you think you’re going to be the one who can do it?” It’s incredibly easy to be negative and tell others they’ll never make it.
Well, guess what? If you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, it can be easy to achieve your dreams, too. Sure, it’s a lot of work, a lot of self-doubt, a lot of fear of the unknown. But the rewards are worth it.
I dreamt of moving to California, of working for the best PR agency, of traveling the world. And I’ve done it. Now I have new dreams, and I’ll achieve those, too.
If I can do it, you can.
Can students contact you directly?
Connect with Danielle