How Getting Involved and Leadership Roles in Student and Campus Organizations Led to the Right Graduate School Fit

Danzel Jones, CPS ’21

Danzel Jones graduated in May 2021 with a Master of Professional Studies degree in Digital Media  with a concentration in Digital Video. When you count up all the organizations, initiatives and groups that Danzel Jones was involved with during graduate school, you can’t help but be in awe of how he was able to finish his degree in such a timely manner.

While in graduate school, Danzel was President of the Graduate Student of Color Collective.  He is the Graduate Program and Events Assistant at the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute assisting with existing and new programming initiatives as well as the operations of the Center. He has also served as one of six student members of Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies Council for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Initiatives.

Also, he was honored in April as the Northeastern University Student Leader of the Year during the Student Life Awards given by the Northeastern Center for Student Involvement. In addition, he started Spotlight Media, his own photography and videography business; he has created and posted numerous videos on YouTube. Outside of school and work, his faith is very important to him, and he is very active at the Rehoboth Lighthouse Full Gospel Church Inc. and with the Northeastern University Unity Gospel Ensemble.

Danzel is also cofounder and cofacilitator of Conscious Connections, an interfaith initiative for faculty and staff through the Spirituality Center.

For Danzel, it took time to find the right program, the right fit, timing to join organizations, get involved, work within and then eventually lead these organizations. He also found a way to balance his outside activities and his academics and encourages others to do the same.

“I always made the distinction between quitting and throwing in the towel and I never threw in the towel, said Danzel.  Whenever I speak to high school and college students, I make the point of saying — to never throw in the towel.”

When asked why he selected Northeastern, he says that the program didn’t require the GRE (a standardized test for admission to graduate school) and the hands-on and the collaborative approach to learning were key factors in his decision.  Danzel also realized that digital media was always his first and foremost interest.

Danzel’s focus on digital media started at the Humanities and Leadership Development campus of Lawrence High School in Massachusetts, where he took production classes. From there, he went on to receive his Associate in Arts degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Communication from Middlesex Community College and his Bachelor of Arts in Communication degree from University of Massachusetts Amherst. Before Northeastern, he studied for his master’s degree in Public Administration in West Virginia.

“Some of the work I’m most proud of is expanding BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) outreach and beginning to establish chapters on regional campuses, connecting with international students and to all students who don’t identify as white,” said Danzel. “I helped students engage during the global pandemic, and conduct conversations in a virtual space, which enabled people to vent about a wide range of issues including family, work and classes.”

Danzel’s thesis advisor and many of his classes were with Lecturer, Gary Greenbaum – who helped shape his capstone and thesis.

 “I did a documentary on John D O’Bryant, the first African American to be appointed a Vice President of Student Affairs at Northeastern University and interviewed O’Bryant’s son, Dr. Richard O’Bryant and got his approval for the piece.  Some of the classes that were so meaningful to me were about casting calls, and budgeting, as well as grants you can apply for to fund your project.”

What’s next for Danzel? In addition to his work at the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute, Danzel is helping a friend campaign for a School Committee seat in Haverhill, MA, designing the campaign website and photographing events.

After that, maybe it’s divinity school or a doctoral degree; for certain, Danzel will be using digital media to express his ideas.