A Georgia State Success Story in the Making: Danielle Grevious

Of all the things new high-school graduates need as they begin their college careers, a friendly face is one of the simplest, yet at the same time one of the most important. Danielle Grevious was fortunate to have one when she first came to Georgia State four years ago, and now, as a university tour guide, she’s providing that friendly face and welcoming attitude for others.

“Sometimes you get the students that are very prepared, they know what they’re getting into,” Danielle says. “Others might be a little more shy or unsure, and you have to pull it out of them to get them excited about things. And then some of them are scared, they’re like, ‘I don’t know what I want to do.’ It’s our job to let them know that that’s OK. They’re probably going to feel like that for a while. It’s just a matter of reassuring them that it’s a great experience, and even if you don’t end up doing what you studied once you graduate, you still end up learning so much about the world during that time.”

When Danielle reassures nervous incoming freshmen about life at Georgia State, she speaks from experience. Over the course of her own college career, she’s sampled a wide variety of extracurricular activities and studied abroad twice; she’s also encountered challenges and changed her major. Through it all, though, she says solid advising and scholarship support has helped her stay on track to graduate this month. When she does, she’ll be just the second in her family to earn a degree.

Diving Right In

If you measure school spirit by how many extracurricular activities someone gets involved in, Danielle had plenty almost from the minute she arrived on campus. A recipient of the Netzel Scholarship, awarded to undergraduate chemistry and biology majors, she served as a mentor for the Netzel Freshman Learning Community as a sophomore. She also served as a research assistant in a chemistry lab and as a TA for chemistry labs and problem-solving courses. She participated in fashion shows produced by Georgia State’s Infinite Appeal modeling group. And she had the unique experience of being on the Pantherettes dance team during the football team’s inaugural season.

“It was really fun,” Danielle says of her year as a Pantherette. “We didn’t know how it would be, so it was a learning experience for everyone. I met a lot of really good people and created some great friendships out of that, and I got a good understanding of another side of Georgia State that a lot of people don’t get to see.”

The warm and open atmosphere at Georgia State, she says, was a big part of what inspired her to participate in so many activities. “I felt really welcomed, and I had a great group of mentors who were helping us with the science field. Getting into research, what classes we should take, we had very specialized assistance with all those things, and I felt like that was the kind of environment I wanted to be in when I got to college. It was such an easy transition.”

Help Making theTough Choices

Like most college students, Danielle ran into some challenges, too — the biggest coming about halfway through her college career, when she realized she had a big decision to make.

“The spring of my sophomore year and the fall of my junior year,” she remembers, “I was on the dance team, I was a chemistry major, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I was taking really hard classes, and I didn’t have the passion to study or focus on it at the time. I had a lot on my plate, and I think that’s when I started feeling like I was overextending myself.

“So that fall semester I took intro classes for a political science track — just to see if I liked it, just to see how it would go. I decided to take a step back and calm down, just for a semester. It was time that I needed to really re-focus.”

Danielle decided that a switch to an interdisciplinary studies major, with a concentration in international studies, would give her the freedom to pursue a variety interests. It was a significant change from chemistry, but fortunately, she says, Georgia State made it easy.

“There are things I’ve always enjoyed, and I just didn’t pay attention to them at the time,” she says. “As far as classes went, transitioning was pretty easy. I got advice from a lot of different mentors on what I should do.”

Seeing the Whole World, Preparing for the Real World

Once she’d changed her major, Danielle picked up right where she left off. She’s spent two summers in the Ronald E. McNair Program, a research program designed to spark interest in pursuing doctoral degrees among first-generation and lower-income students. Thanks to the International Experience Fund, she’s had two study-abroad experiences — one in Argentina, another this past summer in Guatemala.

And she’s already tackled perhaps the biggest obstacle facing college students: finding a job after graduation. Through AmeriCorps VISTA, she’s lined up a position as a mentor coordinator at Culture Connect Inc., a non-profit Decatur organization whose Go-Betweener Mentoring Program assists students from immigrant families.

“The kids are often the only ones who speak English, so they serve as go-betweens — between what we do here in Georgia and their parents’ culture and language. The point of the program is to mentor these kids, give them some type of leadership and advice on how they can handle things that they’re going through. Because coming from an immigrant family can be very difficult here.”

Given the variety of opportunities she’s had, Danielle has plenty to talk about on her campus tours. “If you want a really diverse environment, and you want more of an urban campus, this is a place you’d really want to consider,” she says. “I would also say that because Georgia State’s so big, to really enjoy it and get the most out of it, you have to get involved.

“Take classes, get involved — I think it’s important not to just do the same things you’ve always done,” Danielle says. “It’s a learning experience traveling to places where you’d just assume things would be one way and they end up being totally different. And it’s important to be an educated citizen of the world.”