Mary Ann Danowitz has undertaken international travel, work and research throughout her academic career. Prior to coming to NC State as dean of the College of Education, she was a research fellow at Austria’s Vienna University of Economics and Business. She held Fulbright Fellowships in Indonesia and Austria and has conducted research across Europe, in addition to leading the Ohio State University’s graduate study abroad program for 10 years.
When she decided to make a leadership gift to the College of Education, Danowitz knew endowing a study abroad scholarship would be a lasting way to make a difference for students.
“For me, study abroad should not be an added experience. It should be an opportunity that all students at NC State have,” she said. “It’s not only an investment in them. It’s an investment in their community; it’s an investment in their capabilities of working with teams of people who are different from themselves.”
Danowitz believes that for education students, study abroad opportunities can be particularly important.
“Every teacher becomes the eyes and ears for his or her students,” she explained. “Most of our students come from North Carolina and, we hope, will continue to teach in North Carolina. It’s so important for them to be able to have a life-changing experience outside of the U.S. culture as part of their foundation to prepare their students to succeed in a diverse and interconnected world.”
Making London the Classroom
Study abroad was certainly an exciting eye-opener for Chantal Warfield, the inaugural recipient of the College of Education Study Abroad Award Danowitz created.
Warfield is an education general studies major, with a minor in Africana studies, who will graduate this May. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in library science to become a children and teen services librarian. Last summer, she participated in the five-week STEM and Liberal Studies in the UK course based in London. Her program included attending “Hamlet” at the re-created Globe Theatre, as well as hands-on trips to Westminster Abbey, Stonehenge and Bath.
“In the library, I’m going to have to interact with people who don’t look like me, who might not be people I would normally interact with. To be able to experience different cultures and different things in the world is important,” Warfield said.
The timing was also key. As an out-of-state student from Natick, Massachusetts, who plans to stay in North Carolina, she will soon be even farther from her support system, as her family is moving to Texas. “I was able to navigate a new city and figure out the ins and outs,” she said. “I had to budget, cook for myself, travel and figure out how to get places on my own. I was glad I had that experience before my senior year.”
The trip would not have been complete for Warfield without seeing Paris. Her last weekend in the program, she and a friend boarded a bus, and then a ferry, in order to see the city – and the Eiffel Tower. Making this longtime dream a reality quickly became one of her favorite parts of her travels.
Warfield has known several people who wished they had studied abroad in college, and participating in a study abroad program had been her goal when coming to NC State. Her mother assists with tuition, but Warfield decided to fund her trip herself. She applied for as many forms of aid she could find, and, with the support of the College of Education Study Abroad Award, she was able to enjoy her travels without taking on debt.
“I don’t want that to be a regret for people,” she said. “I wish more people would step out of their comfort zone and try new things. In college, that’s the prime opportunity to do so. It will definitely help you in whatever you’re doing in life. If you’re going into business, you’re going to have to talk to people in different countries. And getting the sense of different places is really important.”
When Warfield returned into the fall, she and Danowitz had the chance to meet and discuss the trip.
“The impact a donor can have is really cool,” Warfield said. “Just to be able to sit down and talk to her about my experience and have that bond is great.”
For Danowitz, learning about Warfield’s time in London was a meaningful part of creating the award fund.
“I was able to get a feel for what it meant to her and to her mother – the excitement, but also the uncertainty of what it was going to be like,” Danowitz said. “That was really exhilarating to me. I’m so glad she had that opportunity.”
A Gift That Continues to Give
As a college dean, Danowitz is keenly aware of private support’s impact. The requirements for students training to become educators often involve additional expenses, such as a professional wardrobe for student teaching, transportation to and from their assigned school and, for many, classroom supplies. With 75 percent of College of Education students demonstrating financial need, these requirements become an especially heavy burden to achieve their dream to become teachers.
“A gift to the College of Education is a gift that continues to give and give,” Danowitz said. “Financial investment in our students is a financial investment in the lives of the thousands of children and youth their work will touch. It’s an incredible exponential return.”
Before Warfield pursues a graduate degree, she plans to apply to join NC State’s College Advising Corps to help rural students through the process of applying to college. The role will draw on the expansive leadership skills she has gained through study abroad and as president of the Multicultural Young Educators Network, treasurer of the Education Council, College of Education Student Ambassador, AYA Ambassador with the African American Cultural Center and treasurer of NC State’s chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council – among many roles.
“I’ve done a lot of things I didn’t think I would do coming to college,” Warfield said. “I got so involved. I would haven’t gotten this experience if I went to another school.”
Extraordinary experiences prepare NC State students to make a difference for the young people they will encounter in their careers after graduation.
“What is very special is that we are so clear about our mission and the importance of the College of Education to our state,” Danowitz said. “To be part of living that mission and working with our faculty, students and alumni to address the pressing problems that open or close doors for a lifetime – for me, it’s a calling.”
Danowitz views her decision to invest in the college as a donor as a natural part of that calling.
“It’s part of the whole equation of supporting an institution you believe in and love.”