Danielle Brown ’18

“The gates of the College truly open to another world. Each interaction requires us all to take an introspective look at our values as well as our biases.”

Name: Danielle Brown ’18

Hometown: Angleton, Texas

Academic focus: English and Africana studies double major; journalism, media and public discourse Nexus concentration

Selected campus involvement: I was president and founder of FLIP, or the First Generation and Low-Income Partnership, which works to make our campus a more comfortable place for students within our affinity group. I’ve been a proud member of Familia, where I’ve met some of my closest friends. I wrote for alternative online magazine MHRadix, which taught me to always speak up in even the most grueling situations. In summer 2017, I went to Cuba and South Africa thanks to the Karen Snyder Sullivan Award, and I’ll remain on the choosing committee after I graduate. Each spring I’ve made an appearance as a permanent fixture of Skinner Green, where I lie in the sun with my friends.

Proudest accomplishment at Mount Holyoke: Founding FLIP will forever put a positive mark on my Mount Holyoke experience. The students who have worked to make that organization a force to be reckoned with come from a three-year span of classes, which makes it feel like a legacy in the making. I know that the presence of the group will soon become commonplace but just knowing that an incoming student who may have imposter syndrome will find a home within FLIP makes it all worthwhile.

How a close connection with a faculty member has shaped you: Professors Amy Martin (Professor of English on the Emma B. Kennedy Foundation), Andrea Lawlor (visiting lecturer in English) and Preston Smith (chair, Africana studies) have had the biggest impact on my college experience. They’re not only great leaders in terms of faculty advancement, when advocating for their own positions and departments, but they’re the names that always top the list when students take note of who they seek out first in search of guidance.

I’ve bothered them many times for mundane issues and life-altering ones. But each time they have agreed to be there, whether to critique my papers or push me to be a better human being. They validate my thoughts when I don’t always have the appropriate words for them, and by doing that they’ve made my time at Mount Holyoke feel valuable.

Favorite course you thought you might not like: I didn't think I’d enjoy Short Story I with (now-retired) Professor Valerie Martin. I took it in order to push myself to share my finished short stories with a group for the first time but I didn't think my writing was that strong. The support in that class as well as the encouragement from the professor made me feel like maybe I do write fiction a little better than I give myself credit for. It was enlightening to take a peer-led course where I was told how my words can come across, as well as how they can improve.

Best takeaway from internship or research experiences: My internships included a summer with The Massachusetts Review (thanks to Lynk funding), as well as a brief semester at FENCE magazine. Along with the administrative skills I gained from my internships at these literary magazines, I was given an idea of how small books like these can really pack a punch in the publishing world. I now know how getting published can launch a writer’s career, as well as how much effort is placed into just selecting the cover art. These internships also gave me insight into where I’d love to steer my career and how I can get started on that even now.

How Mount Holyoke has shaped your global outlook: The idea that there is more to be explored outside of your hometown seems obvious but to actually take the step is something else entirely. The gates of the College truly open to another world. Each interaction with someone from a background polar opposite to your own requires us all to take an introspective look at our values as well as our biases.

Future plans: I’d like to get a master’s degree in an English-related program like creative writing or library science but I haven’t made a final decision. For a few years, I plan to fulfill the desire to feel useful in our current political and environmental climate by working for non-governmental organizations or for racial, gender or sexuality justice-based organizations. I recently started a position with a Boston-area neighborhood development corporation where I’ll be working to improve economic and housing opportunities for a low- to moderate-income community. Eventually, I’d also love to have just one of my stories published in a literary magazine.