By Lisa Hughes
Danielle Pace, a 2012 graduate of St. Mary Catholic Community School, attended Kindergarten through eighth grade at the Crown Point parochial school. After St. Mary’s, Danielle attended Crown Point High School and graduated in 2016. Danielle is currently at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana and is studying Veterinary Medicine. Danielle is an early admit to the Veterinary Medicine program and was able to skip two years of undergraduate work, something she credits to the foundation provided by St. Mary’s. She is currently a member of the Exotic Animal Club at Purdue and would like to go into Zoo medicine. Because there are very few collegiate programs that offer a focus in Zoo medicine, she is currently learning about both large and small animals.
One of Danielle’s favorite experiences at St. Mary’s was the eighth grade trip to Washington D.C.. Danielle said that it was “neat to see all of the historical sites”. She especially enjoyed being with her friends and touring in small groups that were able to focus on seeing they wanted while visiting several historical places. She really enjoyed touring the Smithsonian Museum Campus and the Washington Zoo, which fueled her interest in Zoology.
Danielle liked the well-rounded education provided by St. Mary’s. While at St. Mary’s she was able to try a variety of different activities. Computer class provided a good technical foundation. The interactive classes and technology helped prepare Danielle for the required knowledge at Purdue. She enjoyed integrating technology in the classroom and found that learning these tools at a young age at St. Mary’s made it easier for her to understand other computer-related topics.
One of Danielle’s favorite activities while at St. Mary’s was participating in Science Olympiad. Danielle was a team member for all three years of junior high because she loved the competition and fun. Some of her favorite events were Food Science, where she got to make cupcakes, and Forestry. Danielle chose some classes she took at Purdue because of her experiences in Science Olympiad. Danielle also found that Science Olympiad fueled her interest in Marine Biology.
Danielle enjoyed her teachers at St. Mary’s, who she remembers as enthusiastic and helpful. She said that they made learning fun and more personal. One of her favorite teachers is Brad Nieman, an eighth grade homeroom and junior high Social Studies teacher. She said, “Mr. Nieman challenged me and helped prepare me to study.” Danielle thought that science and art classes “were a blast” and fondly remembers Mrs. Karent Wacker’s 3rd grade class where they made “stone soup.”
Danielle still has many friends from St. Mary’s that she hangs out with at Purdue. In fact, she keeps in contact with more St. Mary’s friends that those from high school. She spends time with several of her former Science Olympiad team teammates and recently had a game night with them.
While at St. Mary’s School Danielle learned that “giving back to others is important and that you should help out others in any way that you can”. She enjoyed helping with fundraisers and charity drives and currently helps with food packing and making meals for those in need. Danielle’s advice to others, “nothing worth doing is easy. If you are dedicated, you will get there.”
The education provided by St. Mary’s School helped shape who Danielle is today. In fact, she said that St. Mary’s school “helped make me more confident.” Danielle said that she would like people to know that St. Mary’s is a really close-knit school where children can make a lot of good friends. The vast experiences and opportunities provided at St. Mary’s School such as the Spaghetti Supper, Pancake Breakfast, and being a Student Ambassador helped prepare Danielle for real life.