Danielle Birnell, 29, plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication with a concentration in print journalism and a minor in English in December 2015. Birnell served in the U.S. Army for eight years as a licensed vocational nurse before deciding to return to school and pursue her passion of writing. She has been actively involved with the UTPA chapter of the Student Veterans of America for two years. Birnell has written articles for The Pan American and is currently involved in the Stampede, an entity of Bronc Radio and TV. Her volunteer work includes helping at the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley.
Awards/Honors: Dean’s List, Fall 2012, Spring and Fall, 2013, and Spring 2014
What are your plans after graduation? After graduation I plan to enroll in the Creative Writing graduate program to better develop my writing skills. Once I receive my master’s degree, I’d like to work as a freelance writer. I’m also working on a book right now so hopefully I can get it published within the next five years.
Do you plan to stay in the Valley? Although I am not originally from the Valley, the community here has been very welcoming to me and my family. It has been our home away from home. We plan on being here for at least a little while, but eventually I would like to seek job opportunities closer to my hometown in Indiana.
What has your education done for you? My education has opened up so many opportunities for me. It has gotten me outside of my comfort zone and has really helped me see a side of myself that I didn’t know existed before.
How do you feel about your UTPA experience? My experience at UTPA has been invaluable. I attended another university before joining the military and I believe the professors and lecturers at UTPA are top of the line. They really connect with students and make classes interesting. They give students the tools they need to excel, not only in the classroom, but also outside the classroom.
What is your best tip for success? Keep your goals in mind and your priorities straight. It was hard for me at first to find the balance between being a wife, a mother and a student. Finding that balance between personal life and academics has really helped me succeed.
What advice do you have for college-bound students? Find what you are passionate about and follow it. It is also important to make goals. Even if you fall short, setting goals will give purpose to your actions.