When Danika began looking at colleges, she said she'd go anywhere but Messiah College (she had a family connection there), but God had other plans. As she looked for Christian colleges where she could study both Spanish and Biology and do a study abroad with two majors, Messiah was the obvious choice. Danika loved that Messiah was both "rigorously academic and undeniably Christian."
Just as God changed Danika's plans for which school she'd be attending, he began to prepare her for a different career path as she became more engrossed in her studies. She began to see sustainability and community organizing work as tools for reconciliation and her desire to be a missionary overseas shifted to seeing both her local community and church as her mission field.
On her study abroad in Valparaiso Chile, Danika began to draw connections between the roots of poverty and environmental disasters--both abroad and in the United States. It was also the first taste she had of teaching concepts she had learned in school... IN SPANISH.
Five years later, Danika has found a place teaching GED students, often completely in Spanish. She feels that Algebra is hard enough to learn in one's first language and has done the extra footwork to learn how to explain the toughest concepts on the GED in Spanish. Danika loves GED because she gets to work with a rich variety of cultures, using the classroom to expand her students' minds and worldviews and to help them discover their own voices.
She is also pursuing a Masters in Sustainable Communities from Northern Arizona University, which focuses on social movements, community organizing, and activism. Danika has been able to use northern Arizona and rural, mountainous southern Colorado as laboratories for her studies. She's excited to be able to write an "undeniably Christian" thesis for a secular institution and is very thankful for how her capstones at Messiah College prepared her to discuss complex graduate level concepts with scholarly integrity and still relate them back to her faith.