Student Stories: She evolved from animal science to ag education

March 21, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Students spend years going to class and doing countless hours of homework, pursuing degrees that seemingly will define their career paths. In between the shuffle of changing majors, finding internships and dealing with a struggling economy, many are left wondering what to do after graduation.

It's a question Penn State graduate Danielle Breese asked herself many times.

After graduating in 2009 with a degree in animal sciences, the Media, Pa., native held two full-time jobs -- one at a car dealership and one at a racehorse breeding farm. Although she once had hopes of going to veterinary school, she knew it wasn't the right choice for her. She eventually decided to go back to get her teaching certificate in agricultural education.

In the fall of 2010, Breese returned to Penn State's University Park campus to get her teaching certificate with the hopes of combining another passion -- English as a second language education -- with an agricultural curriculum. "I worked at the racehorse farm, and many of the immigrants there couldn't speak English," she explained. "I realized teaching them English would improve their quality of living."

The requirements for her teaching certification in English as a second language led Breese to join a Penn State-affiliated program in Ecuador in the summer of 2011.

Breese flew to Quito, Ecuador, where she and nine other Penn State students enjoyed the city for a week. They then traveled to Otavalo, Ecuador, where they spent the next four weeks teaching agricultural curriculum to grade school and high school students.

Her day-to-day tasks involved going to classes, planning lessons, observing and teaching one class per day. "I learned how simply some of the people there live. They have the best intentions for their children's education but not the financial means to achieve them."

During her time in Otavalo, Breese also stayed with a host family. Getting accustomed to the different culture and refreshing her Spanish were challenging, and living in Ecuador for a few weeks was an eye-opening experience for her.

"It gave me more perspective into the lives of people and the struggles they go through," she explained. "It allowed me to relate to the people more."

Now back at University Park, Breese is looking forward to completing her certification in May. She hopes to move to Texas when she's done; but regardless of where she ends up, she will always have her experience in Ecuador to look back on.

  • Danielle Breese with two students she taught in Ecuador.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 21, 2012