by Anne Heck
Danielle Green-Alston ‘14, raised in the Overbrook neighborhood of Philadelphia, experienced a household marred by addiction and domestic violence.
During her childhood, her stepfather was emotionally and physically abusive to her mother. During those trying times, she sought comfort in members of her extended family who provided a good example of hardworking, college-educated and spiritual people. These early experiences prepared her for a rollercoaster of struggles and triumphs.
“It is because of having survived these struggles that I later realized that my parents had the greatest influence on the direction my life would take,” said Green-Alston. It set her on a path to the “helping professions,” ultimately guiding her to pursue counseling as her choice of vocation. “I was compelled with gratitude to give back by helping others make healthier choices for their lives, even when hope appeared lost.”
Life threw another challenge at Green-Alston when, at age 32, she survived a traumatic brain injury that left her in a debilitated state.
Despite struggling with cognitive issues and diminished vision caused by her brain injury, Green-Alston stayed focused on developing a career of helping others and began her studies at Alvernia. She conquered her challenges and graduated summa cum laude from Alvernia in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Health.
Throughout her Alvernia journey, Green-Alston continued to provide support and nurturing to her husband and two children, as well as her mother who has now been in recovery for over a decade. Her daughter, Mariah, now age 8, has Down syndrome and needed multiple surgeries at birth to sustain her life. Mariah has also been a source of inspiration in her mother’s career.
“Mariah’s existence helped inspire my decision to help those in need. The goal is to be a better role model for my kids by letting them see that even if life provides difficulties, they can get through anything with determination.”