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.