Get To Know Your SPA Professors: Danielle Varda

Connecting with your professors can benefit you in the classroom and beyond.  Read this series to dive deeper into the minds of our professors and get answers to some fun and interesting questions. We asked professors to reflect on their career, advice for students, non-academic hobbies and interests.

danielle_vardaWhere does your passion/inspiration for your work come from? Is it why you entered your field?

I am inspired by working with communities to help people solve problems. As a researcher, there is a certain way that I look at problems and complexity that, in partnership with people in communities, I feel like we can find solutions together. To answer these kinds of problems, it requires a partnership between a researcher and the people who are facing problems. With this kind of synergy and shared expertise, blending theory, methodology, and real-world experiences, no answer is out of reach.

If you were not a professor what would you be?

I’ve always dreamed about being a writer/photographer for National Geographic. I love learning about people and capturing their candid expressions. I would love the travel, the research, the story telling, and the visuals.

What are your favorite non-academic reading/interests?

When I’m not thinking about work, all my energy and time is spent sharing experiences with my family and friends — mostly outside, camping, boating, and skiing. But what is most fulfilling is being together with my three girls, having adventures together, watching them experience new and diverse things, and getting to watch them grow into their own selves.

Where have you lived outside of Colorado?

I grew up in El Paso, Texas, and moved to Austin, Texas, for my undergraduate. After moving to Colorado to join the AmeriCorps NCCC for two years, I finished my graduate degrees and moved to Hermosa Beach, Calif., for three years while working at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica. The mountains soon called us back and we moved back to Colorado in 2008. We’ve been here ever since.


Categories: Academics, Features

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