The Danielson Learning Center made a difference in Michelle White’s life. The 2006 alumna enrolled at the New Castle campus six years after graduating high school. She had grown up in Henry County, 15 miles from the center. As a single mother of one, in addition to working two jobs, the local campus was the most conducive option for her to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
“The Danielson Center offers small class sizes, and a closer atmosphere than a large campus. The classes are small enough that the professors know their students by name, and easily recognize if there are areas where the student struggles. The classes were small and engaging, and professors were able to spend more individual time with their students,” White said.
White was nervous to step back in the classroom as a non-traditional student. With the help of staff to enroll and register, returning to the classroom was seamless.
“The staff was extremely helpful, and walked me through each step. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I was surprised at how easy it was to get my degree as long as I was willing to put in the work. The staff and teachers at New Castle Danielson Center made my experience enjoyable,” White said.
During the time that White attended courses at the center, she changed her major from a Bachelor of Science in English to a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts with a focus on painting, mostly at the influence of her mentor and art instructor, Simon Clopper.
She had decided to enroll in an all-day art course at the center taught by Clopper.
“I remember crying all the way home on the first day, and even considered dropping the class. He was very specific about what we were painting and what we were going to learn,” White said.
But White continued with the course despite feeling apprehensive the first few days. In fact, after that first semester with Clopper, she signed up for every course he taught at the Danielson Center. She added that one of the biggest lessons she learned about herself while in college, is that she had a passion for art.
“I truly found a love for painting in Simon’s class that I may have missed if it weren’t for his way of teaching. He was the reason I changed my focus from English to Art, and I have never regretted the change,” White said. “I was also lucky enough to meet one of my best friends in his class. Her and I still paint today, and still meet with Simon on occasion to catch up over dinner. He was a changing person in my life, and I will always be grateful to him.”
As a student, White helped establish an Art Club and served as co-president. She was also co-president of the Student Council. Both clubs worked to raise money each year through the Haunted Barn in Memorial Park. The Art Club organized the first Festival of Artists and the first Battle of the Bands event at the Henry County Art Park, White said.
“Throughout the years, our clubs were able to raise money, collect canned foods for the local shelters, and collect coats for local children’s organizations,” White said.
In 2006, White received the IU East Outstanding Organizational Leader/President Award.
Once White graduated with her B.S. in Fine Arts and a Minor in Creative Writing, she went on to earn her M.B.A. from Indiana Wesleyan University. She taught business courses at the Danielson Center in the evenings, including a marketing class and a computer course which is a required class for all majors to learn the basics of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, File Management, and Access. She worked as a treasurer for Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation, at the high school and for the corporation, over 14 years. White was also elected to the district’s School Board of Trustees in 2012.
“All through high school, I was business oriented. I always knew I would work in business, probably in an office somewhere. Though I eventually went back for my M.B.A., I spent my undergrad years exploring a completely new side of myself that I didn’t even know existed,” White said. “I can’t imagine how different my life may have been had I not made that decision to go back to school at the Danielson Learning Center in New Castle.”