Donovan Daniel

Donovan Daniel


Patterson, NJ


IUP (bachelor’s degree in physical education and sport, master’s in adult education and communications technology)


My wife, Felicia (Moore), and I met in Foster Dining Hall in 2008 and started dating our senior year.


I love watching anything Marvel or Star Wars. Public speaking is a real passion. There is nothing better than connecting with an audience, large or small. Recently, I delivered a TEDx Talk at Point Park University. Stepping on the red carpet and offering an idea worth sharing was exhilarating!

Favorite food

Pernil, arroz con gandules y maduros (roasted pork shoulder served with yellow rice, pigeon peas, and sweet plantains)

Favorite place to eat in Indiana

That is tough. I like so many places. For full-service restaurants, it’s a tie between Pan Asia Cafe and Lemoona House. Honorable mentions: Danny’s Tacos and Cravings by Matt. If you know, you know.

Favorite TV show

This Is Us. I enjoy life dramas in general.

Person who has the biggest influence on you

So many are responsible for the person I have become, but I want to honor two men in particular: my father, Franklyn Daniel, and my mentor, Dr. Roger Briscoe Sr. My father introduced me to Jesus Christ. He taught me how to swim, compete, start a business, and humbly serve my community. My mentor cultivated a love for teaching and public speaking. He modeled how to connect with students. Both of these men influence how I show up for students every day!

Donovan Daniel has been a fixture at IUP since he was a student 20 years ago. For years, he traveled throughout the state and region as an assistant director of Undergraduate Admissions. As a multicultural recruiter, he talked to diverse populations about the many opportunities they would have at IUP.

Now, he has a more fixed space on campus. In 2023, he began a new role as assistant director of Student Involvement and Leadership Development. Many students visit his office at 134 Elkin Hall to get advice about leadership, joining organizations, and taking advantage of what IUP has to offer. He thoroughly enjoys all the traffic to his office—more so than the traffic he encountered during his travels for Admissions. Having students stop by is a highlight of his day.

In his new role, Daniel helps students get involved at IUP through its many clubs and organizations, and he helps them build leadership skills. He is eager to give leadership advice to any student looking for direction, since he benefited from that kind of guidance years ago. He believes he has received much from IUP, and he continues to give back because “it just makes sense.”

What does the assistant director of Student Involvement and Leadership Development do?

I help IUP students and student groups find their community and expand their leadership capacity. I build and conduct leadership workshops for all interested students. I also organize and sponsor leadership conferences for students and student groups. There are 300-plus groups at IUP, so I am constantly presented with new challenges from my students that I enjoy helping them navigate. I spend the day opening doors, making connections between students, and exploring their leadership skills. I help students get out of their own way by packaging information uniquely to appeal to different types of students.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My job focuses entirely on the student experience. For example, I support the Student Government Association as they aim to represent and support the entire student body. I celebrate the efforts of our Latino Student Organization as they promote cultural awareness and exploration. I champion the work of UBORA Men of IUP as they help Black and Brown men to recognize their inherent worth and realize their full potential. I encourage clubs and organizations to utilize every feature and tool Crimson Connect offers. I coordinate with campus partners to advance leadership learning for all students.

So, no day is typical, as I meet the needs of any student or students I work with each day. My days are dictated by what students need from me. And because all students are different, each of my days is different also. That is one of the reasons I enjoy my job.

What makes a day a good day for you?

Any day that presents an opportunity to establish or deepen a connection with a student is good. If I can connect with at least one student, it’s been a good day. I genuinely get excited to make those connections. I enjoy helping students solve the various problems they face in their everyday lives. This can be either just listening to student issues or helping them map out a plan and supporting them as they follow the plan’s steps to be successful.

What advice do you have for new students?

One is cliché, but do things that challenge and scare you. One of my biggest regrets is that I turned down an opportunity to study abroad [when I was an] undergrad. I didn’t know the first thing about raising support for a trip. The whole process seemed daunting. I assumed it wasn’t financially feasible for my parents, so I didn’t tell them about the trip. To protect my heart from disappointment, I convinced myself I wasn’t interested in traveling abroad. That was such a lie. I am confident that if I had reached out to the International Education and Financial Aid offices, I would have enjoyed a life-changing experience.

A bonus piece of advice is that faculty and staff are not your enemies. Sometimes, it may seem that they purposely put obstacles in your way, but they train you to win races. Life is hard! This season of life is preparing you for success.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

It is not your job as a student to evaluate if you belong in any given room. Your job is to apply for those opportunities. It is not your job to assess yourself. I recognize the many missed opportunities I had as an undergrad.

For example, when I was applying to graduate school here at IUP, my first two years as an undergraduate student were replete with missed assignments, procrastination, and stress-induced tears during finals week all-nighters. Despite a turnaround in my junior year, my cumulative undergraduate GPA was unimpressive. Because of this, I doubted that a graduate assistantship would be available. My mentor, Dr. Briscoe, pointed out that it was not my job to evaluate the application; it was my job to submit the application. I was accepted into my graduate program and received two assistantship offers.

My point is that fear will cause you to miss out on so much in life. Instead of worrying about people’s thoughts and fearing failure, I encourage you to walk into the room with your head held high, knowing you are unique. I must remind myself daily: if God is for me, who can be against me? “Do your job—apply.” That helped me get over the hump and made me move forward. It is someone else’s job to say “yes” or “no.” It is my job to go for it.

Sometimes, I must remind myself to get out of my way. Don’t worry about entering rooms and wondering if you are good enough for them. It is becoming easier to remember that, but it isn’t second nature. You must constantly build yourself up. That means doing what works for you to build self-confidence and achieve your goals. This process looks different for everyone, and that is OK. That is what life is all about. It’s a process; it doesn’t happen overnight. You must show up every day ready and put in the work. Eventually, you will enter rooms knowing that you have a gift/skill set that is powerful and unique.

Any students who are interested in improving their leadership skills or who would like to explore the many clubs and organizations at IUP are encouraged to contact Daniel at