Picture of alumnus Bryan DanielBeing a teenager is tough. Questions like ‘where do I belong’ and ‘who do I want to be’ add tremendous weight to every eighteen-year-old shoulder, making the future seem impossible. For alumnus Bryan Daniel, Holy Cross College offered answers to his questions and invited him into a community of educators dedicated to building students to be scholars, citizens, leaders, and disciples of the future.

“I did not do very well academically in high school. The professors and staff at Holy Cross became my second family. They truly cared not only about my academics, but my overall wellbeing. The professors made sure I fully comprehended the curriculum and made themselves available after class, sometimes late into the evening, for additional academic support. I graduated from high school with a grade point average (GPA) below 2.8. I graduated from Holy Cross College with a GPA above 3.7 and was accepted as a transfer student into multiple four-year universities! Holy Cross College was the first college to give me a chance and I didn’t want to disappoint,” said Bryan Daniel, who graduated with an Associate of Arts (AA) degree in 2006. “I especially want to thank Ms. Phyllis Scott for always being the welcoming and encouraging beating heart of Holy Cross College.”

Upon graduation from Holy Cross, he attended Purdue University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Agriculture. His major was wildlife sciences and after graduation, he moved to Indianapolis, Indiana.

“Over the next two years, I worked in the non-profit scene through AmeriCorps at the Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis and later at The American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis. During this time, I also served as a full-time intern through my church Indy Metro Church where I helped to facilitate serving opportunities for our congregation at The Shepherd Community Center,” noted Daniel.

He started working in the education field in 2013 working full time at The Excel Center at the Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana, where he served as a life coach helping urban adults get their high school diploma. In 2016, he attended graduate school, obtaining a Master of Arts degree from Indiana University through IUPUI with a major in school counseling. After graduation, he was the vice principal of The Excel Center and started a meal service program that offered students fresh fruit and vegetables.

“We called this program ‘Meadows Café’ because our school was located off of 38th and Meadows Drive. The goal of this café was to provide free healthy food alternatives to adults and their children who lived or attended our school, which is located in a food desert,” said Daniel.

In March 2020, he left The Excel Center to further serve urban adults at Ivy Tech Community College of Indianapolis, where he served as a Program Director. During this time, he worked due to COVID-19.

Living the dream

“In June 2021, I obtained my dream job, where I currently work as the Director of Community and Operations at The Patachou Foundation. My role facilitates the coordination in distributing over 2,000 meals made from scratch every week by our professional chefs. I love my role because I am allowed to help build community not only within the organization but through the schools we serve as well as our surrounding neighbors,” commented Daniel, who was married in 2014 and will be a first-time father in May 2022.

“My passion has always been feeding people, especially people who don’t have the access/funds to quality food. The Patachou Foundation’s core goal is to provide the best food made by highly trained chefs to urban students around the city. We also have a farm and a coffee shop that provides youth around the city access to seeing how their food is grown, prepared, and served. We also have a fellowship program during the summer where high school students receive employment and educational opportunities working in our kitchen, the coffee shop, and our farm. This is truly a dream job and I love what I do,” said Daniel

Impactful moment

“My most memorable academic moment was when I fully comprehended finite math. Math in high school was my worst subject. Father Merwyn Thomas, C.S.C., showed me that math can be understood by identifying patterns. It felt like a light bulb went on in my head. Ever since that class, I have enjoyed math and have even helped tutor some of my high school students when I worked at The Excel Center,” said Daniel.

Future plans

“Currently, I love what I do. I not only get to feed people, but I get to learn more about food, coffee, farming, people, and all the avenues in-between. Eventually, I would like to take my passions to the next level and pursue a career as a bread baker/farmer, where I will grow my own wheat from the seed to the sourdough loaf. I never want to stop learning. I give credit for my success to Holy Cross College. Holy Cross was the first institution to make me realize that with hard work, I can make my dreams come true,” noted Daniel.