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“The cool thing about GMercyU is they're not afraid to go into neighborhoods and help people.”
Overcoming adversity is a trait Michael Daniels witnessed firsthand growing up. His mother, Michalena Daniels '99, made the gutsy decision to return to school after her job was phased out. Instead of feeling bad for herself, she turned a negative into a positive and three years later, tripled her salary by first earning her associate of science in nursing and then her bachelor of science in nursing from Gwynedd Mercy University.
Fast-forward 15 years and Michael Daniels is now living in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, helping others overcome their adversities. "I remember how GMercyU helped my mother and her example of ‘if you want someone to invest in you, you have to be willing to invest in yourself.’ Seeing her example as a teenager drove home those little life lessons," Daniels said.
Daniels is currently working on several projects, the biggest being with Go For Broke National Education Center where he is the curriculum consultant. Go For Broke refers to the Japanese American experience during World World II, specifically the Nisei Veterans. The non-profit uses the Nisei Veterans’ example to encourage at-risk youths to succeed in life.
Daniels earned his bachelor's degree in history from Widener University in 2001 and shortly after, traveled to Japan to work as an English teacher with the Japan Exchanged Teaching Programme (JET). While in Japan, he fell in love with his wife, Jenny Haro Paz, who is from Peru and was there teaching Spanish.
After Daniels returned to the states, Paz joined him and the couple soon married. To ease the travel for family and friends who spanned several continents, they decided to have the ceremony in Hawaii, a place they had never been to. The couple fell in love with the island and vowed to return.
Daniels followed in his mother's footsteps and enrolled in Gwynedd Mercy University in 2006. He earned his master's degree in education administration and not more than 12 hours after defending his thesis statement, Daniels and his wife were on a flight out of JFK Airport to Hawaii, fulfilling their promise to each other.
Daniels credits Gwynedd Mercy University's professors, Tom Shugar and John Knebels in particular, for teaching him real-life skills that have translated into his professional career.
"They gave real, practical advice that a lot of other schools aren't giving their students. I used everything those guys taught me when I had any type of leadership position. A lot of this stuff I learned from them six years ago still holds true. Having that experience made it a really easy move from one end of the country to another; they're good principles and they're a really good foundation," Daniels said.
Daniels has committed his life to helping others by being hands-on, something he learned at Gwynedd Mercy University.
“I would say it was my mom's example of her going back and mentioning the cool thing about GMercyU is they're not afraid to go into neighborhoods and help people,” Daniels said. “I thought that was really cool. You need to bring people up.”