William and Mary

Danielle Greene selected as student commencement speaker

  • Student Speaker
    Student Speaker
    Danny Greene '12 will be the student speaker at the 2012 Commencement.
    Photo by Stephen Salpukas

The 2012 Student Commencement Speaker Danielle “Danny” Greene ’12 did not arrive on campus as a freshman expecting to graduate from the College of William & Mary. 

“Usually, when people ask me why I decided to come to William & Mary, I change the question around and explain to them why I decided to stay,” Greene said. “That’s basically what the undertones of my speech are -- how I went from coming to this school with transfer papers already filled out the first day of school to graduating from William & Mary and having a very deep commitment to the school.” 

Despite being “determined to dislike it,” Greene could not. 

“It’s kind of hard to hate a place that everyone else really loves,” she said. “It’s contagious how excited people are to be here, and the deep pride you get from alumni [and] from students.”

This “contagious” sense of community pushed her to reconsider transferring from William & Mary.

“People actually care about who you are, where you’re from, what you’re going to do in life, with no prompting other than the fact that you have [William & Mary] on your shirt,” Greene said.  

Her relationship with professors, faculty and staff on campus was another major reason she chose to stay. 

“Immediately after coming here I developed a really close connection with multiple professors and faculty,” Green said. “In high school, I had really great teachers, but it was rare that I developed connections with them outside of the classroom. It astounded me that at a school of a bigger size, where they have so many more students, the professors and faculty are so much more invested in my success.” 

In her four years at William & Mary, Greene has served as co-president of the NAACP, chair of the Multicultural Ambassadors Council, and a development ambassador. Some of her experiences in those capacities encouraged her to apply to be the student speaker at commencement. 

“I’m involved in a lot of multicultural things on campus, particularly within the African-American community and [when I have talked to] different graduates of William & Mary who are African-American, they usually described their experience at William & Mary as an experience of just surviving, making it through, getting the degree and going on and never looking back,” Greene said. “I wanted to give a different story of how the African American community has gone from simply surviving at William & Mary to thriving at William & Mary. We’ve done a lot in terms of expansion of diversity, and I feel - as a student of color - being able to share my positive experiences with William & Mary really shows how far we have come.” 

Greene is also a campus tour guide and a freshman resident’s assistant. She is currently completing her honors thesis, entitled “Tracking the Opporunity Gap.” 

After graduating, Greene will be completing a Master of Teaching degree in Secondary Social Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Education while teaching in the Richmond Public Schools as part of the Richmond Teacher Residency program.