Adversity and experiences inform new career choice for graduate

  • Posted in All University
  • Category: Campus News

LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, PA – For 22-year-old Tiffany Daniels, finally drawing a distinction between her pain and her purpose became not only her saving grace, but the inspiration for her career choice. 

At 14, her father, William C. Daniels, 58, died and then within seven months of his death, her mother remarried. 

“That kind of tore up the family,” she said.

During her freshman year at Lincoln, the Newark, New Jersey, native’s older brother, Eric, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and her older sister, Kelly, died of cancer.  Her sister was 29.
Then in her sophomore year, Daniels got into an abusive relationship and was sexually assaulted, she said, by her then-boyfriend.

She never reported it and told no one.  Eventually, she said, she suffered for it, her GPA plummeting from a 3.9 to 2.3.

“I started going through really deep, deep depression,” Daniels said.  “I sort of withdrew.  I didn’t go to class and wound up failing every single class that semester . . . My professors thought I was just another unmotivated Lincoln student and I was eventually suspended from the university because of (poor) academics, but I appealed.”

Eventually, she found a counselor she felt was helpful, got her to open up and work through it.

She also found support in professors and staff who did not give up on her.  Among them were Karen Baskerville, David Royer, Derrick Swinton ’90, Warren Johnson, and Rev. Frederick Faison as well as her new boyfriend, Brandon Harris ’13, who will be receiving his master’s degree in divinity from Emory University this spring.

“Ms. Daniels’ perseverance through difficult challenges inspired me and affirms of the importance of engaging students both in the academic and social arenas,” said Swinton, interim dean of the College of Science & Technology.  “During our initial meeting and upon learning of her many challenges, I digressed and reflected on my own experiences at LU.   I remembered that during my difficult times there was a friend, faculty, or administrator who provided encouragement or assistance.  She inspires me and is a testament of the nurturing and rigorous academic culture present at the institution.  She has developed the attitude needed for success and the interpersonal skills needed to overcome difficult challenges.”

Daniels explained.

“I had to draw a distinction between my pain and my purpose,” she said.  “I realized that my circumstances shouldn’t define me.  It’s my story, but it shouldn’t control me.  I had to work through my pain. I was my pain, but I had to live.  My dad and my sister, they’re gone.  I didn’t have to die with them and for a while I felt I did.  Once that happened, I started telling my story and started (being recognized for it).”

That resulted in her receiving a “Woman of the Year Award” from the university and the “Inspirational Woman Award” from the university chapter of the National Council of Negro Women of which she serves as secretary. 

“I also started doing my thing and getting involved,” Daniels said, who is also the secretary for the Environmental Science Club, a student ambassador, assistant to the chaplain and a dancer in the Joy Unlimited Dance Ministry.

She added that her adversity and experiences also made her rethink her career aspirations.

“Originally, I wanted to be a medical doctor, but now I want to go into public health,” said the biology major, who is also president of the Pre-Med Club.  “I feel like everything that has happened has led to a career in public health.  My father had a massive heart attack and he never wanted to go to the doctor for anything, ever.  My sister was diagnosed in the 4th stage.  She had symptoms, but because she didn’t have health insurance she never went to the doctor. When she finally went, they diagnosed it within an hour.  My cousin was doing bodybuilding and he was uninformed about the things he should eat and do to keep himself healthy.  Coming from urban community, there was a lot of misinformation and a lot of things I didn’t know about taking care of myself.”

She continued, “I see myself going into health administration.  I want to be a chief health officer and I also want to develop clinics that address that need for uninsured and underinsured.”

In the fall, Daniels will pursue her master’s degree in public health from the George Washington University School of Public Health.

“What I went through really rocked my world and made me feel like I was worthless,” she said. “You really have to know your purpose.”

By Eric Christopher Webb, Director, Office of Communications & Public Relations

Photo by Shelley Mix