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May Alumnae Spotlight, Danielle Brandt, Sioux of 2005

In what ways did your Ursuline education prepare you for the work you’re doing now?

One of the most important things I learned at Ursuline was curiosity, a questioning attitude and teamwork. I remember researching science projects with teammates and discovering cause and effect. If something didn’t work the first time, we were encouraged to try again to develop a solution. These problem solving skills and ability to compromise and be open to input have served me well as a leader in the ever-changing military environment. I was also fortunate to have teachers who saw my potential and fostered that growth. No dream was too big. I remember getting my first manual camera, a K1000 Pentax, from my French teacher Ms. Hooper and her writing in my yearbook that she couldn’t wait to see my photographs in Time Magazine one day. That seemed so unlikely to me at the age of 16 but just a few years after joining the military, my photograph was picked up by Time for a piece on U.S. and Chinese relations. The French I learned also came in handy while living in Belgium where they spoke French in the region. We were encouraged to be ambassadors and today I have lived in Japan, Bahrain, and Belgium representing our country and documenting historic events such as Montenegro’s addition to the NATO alliance. Above all, Ursuline’s motto of Serviam has influenced me throughout my life in choosing to serve and defend my country, my community, and my current career field of military counseling.

Please describe the most significant value you learned from Ursuline Academy.
 
The most significant value I learned from Ursuline Academy was purpose - in that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. The small actions we do on a daily basis impact those around us and we can choose to leave a legacy of kindness in shaping the world through those around us. It helps us decide the kind of life we want to live and the kind of world we want to live in. How will we contribute through a purpose driven life and intentionality? This is something that drew me to humanitarian and combat photography, as well as my current role as a military substance abuse and mental health counselor. Ursuline’s motto of Serviam is the foundation purpose is built upon.
 
Describe Ursuline in one word. Explain. 
 
I would describe Ursuline as dynamic. The dictionary defines dynamic as a force that stimulates change or progress within a system. The education I received at Ursuline taught us as young women to be pioneers just as the Ursuline women who came before us were. The learning we received was and continues to be dynamic as evidenced by the contributions Ursuline girls have made and continue to make every day. With so many examples of successful Ursuline women, Ursuline girls learn not only their school lessons but that there is no limit to what they can achieve if they only set their mind to it.    
 
About Danielle Brandt

Danielle Brandt is a proud Sioux of 2005. She attended Ursuline for six years, starting in seventh grade. Danielle began her U.S. Navy career as a photographer and broadcaster when she enlisted in 2009 and has won several awards for excellence in U.S. Navy journalism. She served aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington in Yokosuka, Japan for her first duty station where she met and fell in love with her husband, Ian. She then served on the admiral’s staff at Naval Forces Central Command in Manama, Bahrain before being selected for a NATO assignment as a photographer for the Supreme Allied Commander Europe in Mons, Belgium. There she was selected as the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe 2017 Sailor of the Year.
 
It was also during her time in Belgium that she completed both an undergraduate and advanced standing graduate degree in social work from Salisbury University and completed internships working with refugees in Belgium and counseling NATO multinational forces and their families. Danielle was then selected for special duty as a Naval Substance Abuse Counselor aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. She is a Licensed Master of Social Work in Virginia.
 
Danielle lives with her husband Ian and daughter Freya in Virginia Beach along with their dog, Whiskey and two cats named Mr. Morgan and Izzy. She and her husband enjoy participating in community theatre. Danielle is an avid rower, recently placing 30th in the Concept 2 International Military Challenge Competition - rowing over a half million meters.

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