March is Women’s History Month, when we celebrate the contributions of women throughout history and contemporary society. With this series, we intend to highlight some of NPRC’s women for the work they have done throughout their careers and for their contributions to the College and higher education.
Today, we are sharing about the success of Dannielle Fickenworth and her journey from working in childcare to becoming the College’s Director of Student Services. After completing her degree in psychology and social work in 2013, she began working at the Warren County YMCA as the Youth and Family Coordinator, and later, the Director of Child Care. After some time, she decided her focus within the world of education was better served by moving to higher education.
She heard about the opportunity to become a Student Success Specialist at a new, nearby college and took the step to join the effort of providing affordable and accessible college degrees and training to residents of the region. Dannielle has successfully worked her way from Student Success Specialist to Assistant Director of Student Engagement to the newest Director of Student Services at NPRC beginning in the summer of 2022. While her title has changed, her mission and the most rewarding aspect of her job remains; to see students fulfill their potential and earn their degrees, certificates, and credentials.
“There is no greater achievement to me than to help the students see all that I know is in them, be there in support of them, and help them to believe in themselves. Going from the first interaction with the students to watching them walk across the stage and accomplish their goal will always be the greatest achievements of my career.”
Like many of the students at the College, Fickenworth was once a non-traditional student herself. She was running her own at-home daycare business, raising her three children, and attending school online. This time in her life taught her so much about herself and the determination if would take to get what you want out of life.
“I knew that I wanted more out of life and made the decision to go back to school online through Clarion University. I certainly did not take the traditional path in education and going online taught me determination and grit. When you go to school online, you have to hold yourself accountable. You don’t have scheduled classes that you attend each day. Instead, you have to be self-motivated and driven to achieve the end result. It could have been so easy for me to make excuses and not show up, but if I did that, I would have been only failing myself. To me, obtaining a college education was about showing my children that they could achieve anything they put their minds to, and it was about sending myself down a path that allowed me to offer a better life financially for my family.”
With a growing and impressive team working alongside her, Dannielle makes sure that she leads with the principles of compassion, kindness, patience, and understanding. “Everyone has contributions that they can make and helping them to see what contributions they can make and the value that they bring to the team is the most important thing to me. I want to help grow those I lead so that they can achieve all they hope to in their careers. I want them to feel comfortable sharing their ideas with not only me, but those around them. I also make sure to give them credit where credit is due. We are building a college and it cannot be done without the ideas and contributions from every single person on the team.”
Dannielle also uses the advice she was given from former NPRC Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, Debra Teachman, to approach each day with the mindset of celebrating all the small victories around her. This advice has guided her and is a phrase that can be found in her office in Warren. The saying has allowed her to remain focused and to have the perspective that even though some achievements may seem small, they make a huge difference in others’ lives.
“I am someone that tries to give 100 percent every single day of my life and I hate the idea that something may not get done and letting someone down. So many people see this in me and have encouraged me to stop, enjoy the ride, keep focused on what we are doing (here at NPRC), and remind me why we are doing it. Building a college is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Dannielle is only one of the many inspiring women at NPRC we are celebrating this month. Join us throughout March for more features that celebrate women in the workplace and inspire local young women to explore an entire world of possibilities in their lives and careers!
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