Danielle Leigh Giannandrea ’05, M.A. ’08, C’07

How has your Hood education benefited you?
My hood degree has helped me so much since graduating. Past employers always wanted to know everything about Hood. It was as if they had heard about it, but never knew anyone who went there. Lucky for me, Hood graduates at my first job after college had a reputation for being some of the best employees that place had ever seen. Also, after college, I had a level of confidence I never had before I stepped onto campus. I was so much more sure of myself and who I had become after college and I think it showed in everything I did.

How did your time at Hood prepare you for graduate coursework?
My time at Hood provided me with not only the appropriate coursework to immediately jump right into the graduate degree I pursued but having worked in college, I also was ready to balance a career and school (and planning my wedding) all at once without difficulty.

How did you find your transition from undergraduate to graduate school?
Seamless. I felt as if I never left.

What were your extracurricular experiences?
Sure did! I was the treasurer for the Campus Activities Board as well as a Senator for Memorial Hall for Student Government. I also took a photography course while at Hood. I currently run my own photography company and have been very successful in recent years. So much so, that I was able to leave my full time job as a grief therapist for an organ procurement organization and be on my own boss full time. While at times it can be stressful, this extracurricular activity has taken me so far in the past 4 years.

Did you decide your major right away?
I knew after sophomore year that I was not cut out to be a bio major. I loved psychology too much. And I knew mid sophomore year that I wanted to pursue grad school at Hood as well. Psychology seemed like the first logical step to the graduate degree I pursued.

What is your favorite memory of Hood?
My favorite Hood memory was having a big sis. The day I got this survey I was getting ready to head out the door for her wedding. I remember about a month before I was all set to go to Hood, I got a letter in the mail pairing me with my big sis. I was so excited. I remembered from when I did an overnight stay how the people I met had little sisters and big sisters and it was just so cool, I wanted one so bad. I immediately got cute stationary (obviously a requirement) and wrote her a letter. I told her everything I thought she needed to know and within a week she had written back to me. A few months later, she was reading me a bed time story and then waking me up at midnight for a giant welcome to Hood foam party and we went to wake up the president (oh the good old Hood Traditions). Second favorite hood memory – never splitting the poles with anyone I walked through the pergola with.

Who were your mentors at Hood?
I considered Professors Dana Cable and Terry Martin to be my closest mentors while in undergraduate and graduate school. I remember the day after I got home from winter break after my sophomore year of college, sitting at a diner with my family, and telling my family I was positive I knew what I wanted to do after I graduated. I remember my mom crying and being so proud of me, and all I could think about was that if Hood hadn’t offered these awesome classes that I was curious about – like Psychology of Death – I would have never even opened my eyes to new topics like that.

What is your opinion on the value of a Hood education?
Totally and completely invaluable.

What is your opinion on the value of a liberal arts education?
I don’t know many other people who got to sit in a class of less than 10 students and learn about music in death and then immediately go to another class with less than 20 students and learn about complementary and integrative medicines. All of my friends were just a number at a large school. I always felt like the professors knew me and were on my side. I could go to them when I was struggling with a topic and they would help me. I always felt like everyone was there for me.

What would you say to students applying to Hood?
I would tell them to take every opportunity Hood gives you. A day trip, an opening in a new group, new friends, a new tradition. Anything. You will never regret it.

What role has your Hood education played in your career?
My education at Hood has helped me reach my personal goals in so many ways. If anything, it taught me the most about two things: how to learn and social skills. Whether it was art history or calculus (not my two favorites), I may not have retained a lot of information from those two classes 11 years after the fact, but they really taught me how to learn, which to me could mean gaining knowledge about a topic by memorizing, retain the information and be able to regurgitate it for an exam. Whether I liked art history or not didn’t matter; the fact that I could take those same skills and apply them elsewhere in college courses or deal with memorizing things in my current job, it taught me a ton. The second is social skills. I came from a high school that was the most diverse high school in Howard County and then went to a college that was equally diverse. I loved interacting with people and am glad I have a job where all I do is interact with people. I think living in a dorm with people who have different world views than you do is so important for how you are going to grow up and treat people in the real world.

Why did you choose to attend Hood College?
I will be honest and say that when I started researching colleges, my mom would throw away anything that came from all girls’ schools. At the time, she thought that would not interest me. It wasn’t until I was throwing something in the recycling one day that I saw the Hood brochure sitting there on top, freshly disregarded. I promptly took it out of the recycling and in the snobbiest 17-year-old way, stomped up the stairs and told her to stop throwing away my mail, maybe I did want to consider Hood. I remember her scoffing. I don’t know if it was spiteful or what, but I told her I wanted to interview and do an overnight and after that I knew for sure this was the place for me. I loved everyone I met. I felt right at home walking around campus. My whole family had grown up and since moved away from Frederick and to me it just felt like the right decision. So I made it. And a bachelor’s and master’s degree later, I don’t regret it one bit.