Dr. Danielle Brownsberger describes her choice to major in English as one of trust: “I decided to have faith in the idea that if I majored in a subject I enjoy—and had some talent in—that money would follow. “
Dr. Brownsberger, who joined UNC-P ETFL faculty as the Coordinator of Undergraduate English Education, made the choice to major in English as an undergraduate at Pennsylvania State University –University Park and continued on to a Ph.D. in English with an Emphasis in Education from Texas A&M University Commerce.
We asked our new faculty to admit to one book it might be embarrassing for an English professor to have not read: Dr. Brownsberger confessed that for her, that book was James Joyce’s Ulysses. “I admire it too much to agree with Virginia Woolf's assessment that Ulysses is ‘such tosh,’ she says, but “I nevertheless struggle to get through 732 dense pages detailing one ordinary man's day.”
That focus on just one man and his day might explain Dr. Brownsberger’s struggle. Throughout her career, connecting with others has been the most important thing in both her studies and teaching.
As an undergraduate, she recalls, “I enjoyed British Literature classes the most. I remember being inspired by my Romantic Literature class at Penn State---more particularly by the friendship between Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron. Whenever I hear people talking about ‘squad goals,’ I think of these writers.” That emphasis on interconnection shapes her approach to teacher training: “it is most important to me that my teacher candidates learn the importance of relationship-building and compassion in the classroom.”
As she moved to her degree, she realized that teaching would allow her to combine the two things she was passionate about: “reading great literature and helping struggling people learn.” In the classroom, she communicates that passion to teacher candidates. What many people outside the field don’t realize, she says, is “teaching is a noble profession done by the most capable professionals.”
Outside the classroom, Dr. Brownsberger has a “pretty great” two year old boy, Kai, who “dominates my free time.” When she does have free time, she still turns to fiction, joking that “dystopia rarely disappoints. “
UNC-P, however, has been far from a dystopia so far. “My colleagues and students have made my transition to UNC-P quite easy,” she says: “everyone has been so helpful, friendly, and approachable.”