Daniel Spahr '02 - Q&A
What was your favorite class or fondest memory of Hofstra?
Even though I had so many great professors and study abroad experiences, my favorite part of Hofstra was the student activities. Up until I had come to Hofstra, I had never been very social, and when I heard about Entertainment Unlimited and Hofstra Concerts, I quickly joined. Later I became a board member of EU and then president. I loved running Freak Week and doing the Freak Formal each year. Those two organizations gave me so many real-life experiences that I never could have had in a classroom.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
After I completed my student teaching and earned the B.A., a professor sat me down and told me that I was probably not cut out to be a teacher, but I knew that I had a special place in my heart for children. I moved to San Francisco shortly after and became an after-school teacher while working toward a master's degree in school counseling. I truly learned to listen to my own voice, but to also be open to others' voices as well, which has led me to a much happier life.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I feel as though I am in several fields. I am a counselor for students and disabled adults as well as a teacher and writer. I believe I am here to help people any way that I can.
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
At Hofstra, gaining field experience both as a student teacher and as the leader of a club taught me some great interpersonal skills that have been essential to my success.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Make sure you are having a well-balanced college experience that includes social aspects as well as self-discovery/care. My friends might tell you I never stopped, but one thing I wish I had done was take advantage of a free gym. I was very involved but I wish I had taken better care of myself, physically, then. If you are at the gym a lot, get out and experience some of the many organizations that are available.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
For students who may be unsure about studying abroad, what advice would you give them?
I have studied abroad four times, both pre- and post-9/11, without any issues. I truly believe these warnings are out there to keep you alert, not to keep you in fear. If you have the chance to go abroad, you should. It will be one of the few times in your life when you can enjoy a trip without parents, kids or spouses, and truly learn about yourself and what you want from your own life. If you are not the kind to go out on your own, take a friend, not your significant other; you won't regret it. I promise.
How did studying abroad help you in your career as a school counselor?
As a school counselor/teacher, I was able to better understand different cultures and develop a great deal of empathy for new immigrants coming to the United States. When I was in Italy, Spain, and France, I didn't know where I was going, got lost and needed to rely on the kindness of strangers to help me find my way. Now I help high school students and parents understand the American public schools and how to obtain a driver's license and transfer school documents.
What is the best travel tip you could give to students?
Stay open to new experiences, and go with the flow. You may have a certain agenda when you set out to study abroad, but adhere to it very loosely. There is so much to see, taste and enjoy with a new culture; just let go of your inhibitions and plans, and enjoy your time there.
Daniel Spahr '02 was born to be around people. By spending much of his adult life learning about the practices and cultures of both domestic and foreign people, he was inspired to pen his first memoir…
In April 2010 his memoir, The Montepulciano Mob, was published. The book details Dan's first time being away from his family as he studied abroad in Italy for five weeks and learned about himself, his peers, and the world away from his home on Long Island. What he learned changed his life forever – as he became who he was supposed to be and fell in love. Along the way, he made connections with his peers for the first time.
In Dan's four years at Hofstra, he blossomed into an active member of the community – going to classes, running a club, and studying abroad each summer. He began to work as a part-time teacher, while also pursuing a Master of Arts in school counseling. Upon completing the M.A., he worked in the Bay Area of San Francisco for several years as a high school counselor. He followed that up with a position as a day counselor and job coach for five mentally disabled adults. While doing all this, he volunteered his time to and financially supported Under One Roof, which raises money for HIV/AIDS charities in San Francisco.
Proceeds from Dan's memoir will benefit a study abroad scholarship at Hofstra that he has established. Dan has traveled around the United States, the Caribbean islands and London, and recently returned to live in New York City. He is hard at work on his second book and is planning his next journey abroad to Egypt in summer 2011.