Danielle Procope ’14 began undergraduate research her freshman year and plans to pursue a doctorate in African-American Studies.
Research, Race and Poetry Readings: One Student’s Diverse Path at Pacific
When Danielle Procope '14 wanted to create a student-run undergraduate research conference in American Studies, it didn't take long to make her idea a reality.
"My professors told me, 'If you want to do it, you can do it,'" Danielle recalls. "That's one of my favorite things about Pacific. I can pretty much make anything happen because the faculty here are so supportive."
Majoring in English and Philosophy, with minors in Ethnic Studies, Gender Studies and Sociology, Danielle has taken full advantage of the diverse educational opportunities offered both inside and outside the classroom. Among other activities, she serves as editor of Calliope, the university's award-winning literary magazine, writes for The Pacifican, works as a writing mentor and belongs to Delta Sigma Theta, a historically black sorority.
She's also the 2012 recipient of the Arlen J. Hansen Scholarship, awarded annually by the English department for excellence in writing. The winner of this scholarship is selected from participants in a campus-wide writing contest by an interdepartmental faculty committee.
And on Feb. 28, Danielle will introduce renowned poet Nathaniel Mackey at his campus poetry reading in honor of Black History Month.
Her experiences exemplify the kind of student-centered learning that thrives at Pacific, says Xiaojing Zhou, Ph.D., professor of English and director of the Ethnic Studies Program at Pacific.
"The culture at Pacific encourages students to be creative, go beyond the classroom and do more experiential-learning research projects," Zhou says. "It's active, intentional, skill-driven, high-impact learning."
A Love of Research
A Sacramento native, Danielle plans to pursue a doctorate in African American Studies, with an emphasis on black feminist theory. Her goal: become a university professor and write books-both fiction and non-fiction-related to black feminism.
Encouraged by her faculty advisor, Jeffrey Hole, Ph.D., she's participated in undergraduate research since her freshman year, presenting at the Pacific Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference (PURCC) and the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR). At PURCC, she's twice won the award for Outstanding Research Paper on Diversity.
She came up with the idea for the student-run conference as a way to share her love of research. "I wanted to encourage people who haven't done PURCC or NCUR to participate and just feel empowered and share what they're passionate about," she says.
Danielle is leading a committee of students to organize the conference, which is set for Fall '13 and themed "Perspectives, Power and America's Gaze."
"What I appreciate most about Danielle's contributions to the Pacific community is her activism," says Hole, assistant professor of English in the College of the Pacific. "She's committed to linking academic work to making real, material changes for people."
'If It Doesn't Exist, Create It'
Danielle's research often deals with issues of race and racial oppression, but her interest in the topic goes beyond academics. An African-American and first-generation American (her father is from the West Indies, and her mother is from England), she wants to bring race and racism out of the shadows and encourage more dialogue-and positive change.
She and her friend Halima Lucas '13, a 2011 Hansen Prize winner and a Communication major with minors in Film Studies and Ethnic Studies, recently began planning a documentary film about race that will feature interviews with Pacific students about their experiences.
She and Halima, who serve as co-presidents of the Ethnic Studies Club, also led a workshop when civil rights activist Sephira Shuttlesworth visited the campus Feb. 14. The workshop focused on the meaning of Black History Month and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. for students of color in higher education.
"I would tell anyone who's coming here to find out what you're interested in and pursue it. And if it doesn't exist, create it," Danielle says. "Pacific is what you make it; there are so many opportunities here to get involved and really learn who you are."