Meet Dannita Trice

Voices of Reynolds

Voices of Reynolds podcast interview with Reynolds alum and William & Mary administrator, Dannita Trice.

Happy black woman with blue blazer in an office setting, smiling at the cameraFrom a student struggling to have the means and self-confidence to complete college, to a Director of Engagement and Operations with William & Mary, Reynolds alum, Dannita Trice stresses the importance of self-confidence, drive, and using available resources. She recently served as the Keynote Speaker for the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society International induction ceremony.

Reynolds: Welcome to Voices of Reynolds, I’m Marianne McGhee this is our podcast celebrating the colleges 50th Anniversary and we have some of the most fantastic alumni in the Commonwealth right here in Richmond. A lot of our alumni as you may know of tend to stay local and we were really excited to get Dannita Trice here today. We know that Dannita has had an awesome career. She is now at William & Mary as an administrator, but our good luck is that she was practically a neighbor, so she was able to pop on over to the Parham Road Campus and talk with me today.

Dannita, welcome! We are delighted to have you.

Dannita: Thank you. It is my honor to be here; thank you for having me. So excited for this conversation today.

Reynolds: Oh, me too. You have built a career, Dannita, as an administrator for some of the finest higher educational institutions in Virginia, including Virginia State, VCU, and now William & Mary. You were also a student recruiter at one of the biggest accounting firms in the region. So, you were looking for talent coming out of school. What's interesting about your story is that it seems like there was a moment in your life when you weren't entirely sure about your own four-year college experience. You said you started at a four-year, and then you took a step back. Why was that?

Dannita: Yes, that is my history. I did begin at a four-year institution, transferred to another, then I started at Reynolds, took a break, worked, then came back to Reynolds. I completed my associate’s degree, and then finally completed my four-year degree. Really it was me trying to figure myself out as an adult. Making mistakes. Looking back, maybe I would have done this a little differently. All-in-all, though, I'm glad for my experience. Now I'm serving as the Director of Engagement and Operations at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business at the College of William & Mary.

Reynolds: When we were chatting before, and we were talking a little bit about your trajectory and, you said, “well, you know I'm going to start going to work.” So many students can completely relate to this. You said an assistant principal told you, “You’ve got to go back to school; you’ve GOT to go back.” What was your first thought when that person said that to you?

Dannita: I know. That was absolutely my thought. I know, and I want to. I maybe didn't see the full picture of how at that point. Yes, I'll dive in there. I did work in the public school system as a teacher’s assistant. The assistant principal at the time, at that particular school, saw something in me. I also happened to be working where I attended as an elementary school student, so I knew some of the teachers there as well. So, I'm really thankful for that assistant principal. Also, coincidentally of all people my kindergarten teacher was still working at that school, invested in me. They invested in me taking a couple of courses and also having books to come back to school. So to answer your question, absolutely! My thought was, yes, I know. I just don't really have a clear plan on how I'm going to get back into the classroom.

Reynolds: Well, you know, it's so relatable because not everyone has it all sketched out once they're finishing up. And I love that you mentioned the investment. We have a scholarship program, and we have wonderful donors who invest in students. Students will say, yes, it's the money that is certainly very helpful, but it's also having someone believe in them that was as helpful as any of it. Just knowing that there was someone really in their corner.

You came to Reynolds, and you said, I love this quote from you, that it felt like a “big hug.” when you got to Reynolds. Tell us what you mean by that.

Dannita: It did feel like a big hug. The hug came from the services that were here and the professors being very willing to know that maybe the students didn't know the path that they were going on. Maybe they didn't have all the resources, one example, the bookstore. I remember coming to buy books, and there were options. There were options to either buy the book outright or rent a book. I remember thinking to myself, wow, I don't have a lot of cash on hand. Yes, I have some support to come back. It is really wonderful that you have an opportunity to borrow a book so that you can read and then return it. So, you don't have to go completely without.

Also, the professors — I will say that they are some of the most quality professors that I have encountered in my tenure – and I have gone on to get my master’s degree, as well. So, being thorough in their instructional practices and being willing to help students and answer questions thoroughly rather than simply passing students off is what makes them outstanding.

Reynolds: Well, look, you amaze me for many reasons. But we were chatting earlier about your experience with your calculus professor. You still think that you could do a calculus problem if it was put in front of you because he was such a terrific professor.

Dannita: I think the first three or four chapters I could probably get through. I've actually tutored students in calculus. So yes, give me a few minutes to dust off, and I think I could do it. But yes, Professor Adams was one of the best professors that I have ever had. And mainly in calculus.

Reynolds: It’s so fantastic to talk to alumni because they can name a professor that they just feel like either electrified or inspired them in a particular subject. Or perhaps they didn't realize how smart they really were. Then they end up in a professor's class who tells them, “you're awesome! Yes, you can do this!” You may have to work hard or harder than others, but you certainly can! Our alumni just have fantastic memories of professors.

I want to ask you, Dannita, because in your work advising students in your experience, as we wrap up. What advice do you have for our students who are listening to you today?

Dannita: Take advantage of the resources that are in front of you. And I would say, well, let me, let me back up. I would say, first and foremost, start with the decision. Start with the decision that you have a bright future. It may be it IS beyond what's in front of you. If you're willing to work for it and then too tap into those resources that I mentioned that are around you. You may have no idea what it is. But show up to one of the student services offices if you have to start with the person that helped you register for classes. To say, “is there a career services office? Is there an advisor that can help me make a career plan? We can make excuses all day about how, “I'm so busy, I have a job that I'm doing, I have children, I have X, I have Y, I have Z.” Which is all true. However, you have to put yourself first.

Also, by tapping into or checking out the resources that you might have. Because sometimes the difference between you having, not having, progressing, and not progressing is simply asking questions. So that you can get more information and begin to network and build up to what could be your future.

Reynolds: Dannita, that is fantastic! I also want to give a little shout-out to our PTK folks because Dannita was a PTK member. And certainly, has clearly developed her leadership skills. And the wonderful thing is sharing those with others. Dannita, you are a fantastic example of why Reynolds Community College is such a wonderful resource and launchpad for people who are destined to be stars like you have become in your career trajectory.

So, thank you so much for being here. Thanks everyone, for listening, and we will catch you on the next edition of these Voices of Reynolds.