Where They Are Now: Spotlight on Danielle Swartz-Koufman
Author: Jillian Daley
Posted: January 2, 2020

Danielle Swartz-Koufman earned a Master of Educational Leadership and Policy (ELP) from Portland State’s College of Education (COE) just four years ago, and she is already making a splash with her academic skills.

While pursuing her master’s degree in the hopes of becoming a leader in education, Swartz-Koufman participated in the Postsecondary Adult and Continuing Education (PACE) program, designed for working adults who plan to teach or manage programs for adult learners.

She specialized in postsecondary continuing and adult education and is now the leader she had hoped to be, an academic advisor at Jones College of Business in Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).

Swartz-Koufman was featured in the December Advisor Spotlight of the MTSU Jones College of Business, Advising website, and it’s only her second year as an advisor there. Among the characteristics the Advisor Spotlight highlighted was that she is a member of the MTSU Safe Zone, an MTSU training program for allies of the LGBT+ community.

The Advisor Spotlight also noted that Swartz-Koufman took the Dale Carnegie Immersion Course, which is Dale Carnegie & Associates’s professional development training. Through the class, she was awarded certificates for Outstanding Performance and the Highest Award for Achievement, and she now teaches the course.

ELP Professor Candyce Reynolds, who served as Swartz-Koufman’s advisor when she was a student at PSU, said that the faculty she knows at MTSU let her know about the Advisor Spotlight and how pleased they are with Swartz-Koufman.

“They love Danielle and think she is so well trained,” Reynolds said.

Swartz-Koufman, who earned a 4.0 GPA while receiving her master’s at PSU, also earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences at PSU and an Associate of Arts in Outdoor Education from Mount Hood Community College. Her Advisor Spotlight points to her degrees as among her greatest accomplishments. Her other major achievements include her raising her son and traveling cross-country with her family.

Although a recent grad, Swartz-Koufman has received so much attention already that she seemed like the perfect candidate for the third installment of the COE’s Where They Are Now, an occasional Q&A series. Here is what Swartz-Koufman had to say:

Question: Which PSU professors inspired you and why?

Answer: Candyce Reynolds was and is such an incredible source of support. I was so hard on myself while working on my COMPS [comprehensive exam], and Candyce was always supportive, caring, and kind. She is so intelligent, an expert in her field, and extremely humble. I was never intimidated by her; she simply gave me the boosts I wanted and needed, and I was able to be successful.

Andy Job [an ELP associate professor] was and is down to earth and made the class topics extremely relatable to our lives. He taught with ease and made the classes really enjoyable.

Ramin Faramandpur [an ELP faculty member]: I truly enjoyed going to Ramin’s class. His topics were thought provoking, inclusive, and taught us how to think and be this way in our own lives both professionally and personally as a result. He encouraged some great group discussions and created a safe space for doing so.

Karen Haley [a PACE professor]: Karen was my advisor from the start, and she was always calm, organized, and supportive. I definitely shed a few tears in her office, and she was always kind and helpful when I was struggling with imposter syndrome and doubt.

Q: How did the PSU programming (PACE) and classes help set you up for success?

A: After I graduated from PSU, I had a greater understanding of all of the research that goes into programming, reaching students, and working from a place of what the research tells us. I feel more polished, confident, and grateful because of this degree. I wouldn’t have the job I have now without it.

Q: How do you feel about having your achievements spotlighted?

A: I feel honored and proud. I worked hard to get here and continue to do so every day. I love my job; I love working in higher education; I love the students I get to work with on a daily basis.

Q: What is your advice to current or future COE students?

A: Find what you are passionate about and go for it. Get involved, be present, and just start talking to your peers and professors. By doing this, you’ll build your network in a natural way, and that will be so beneficial to you and them. You’ll build authentic relationships, and you just never know what may come of it.

Photo: Danielle Swartz-Koufman earned a Master of Educational Leadership and Policy (ELP) from Portland State’s College of Education and was featured in the December Advisor Spotlight of the Middle Tennessee State University College of Business, Advising website.

If you have a suggestion for Where They Are Now, email it to Jillian Daley.