Harvard Leader of the Week

danielle_barbian_1This week, we caught up with Danielle Barbian, former president and current senior adviser of the Harvard Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisers (DAPA). Danielle is a senior in Winthrop House concentrating in psychology. 

Why did you get involved with DAPA?
After my first semester in college, I felt like there was something missing in my college experience. Back in high school I was really involved in student leadership and I missed being able to make a difference in my community. Because alcohol is such a pertinent issue during our college years, DAPA seemed like the best way to really make a difference on campus. I didn’t know much about drugs and alcohol before joining, so it was a great way for me to learn myself and teach others in a non-judgmental way.

What’s the biggest challenge you face with DAPA?
The biggest challenge I face as a DAPA is trying to change the drinking culture on campus. Coming to college we often think everyone drinks and you have to drink in order to have fun. The biggest challenge for me has been challenging these perceptions to help people understand that not everyone in college drinks and drinking can be fun, but you can also have fun without drinking.

Who inspires you?
I am most inspired by sister Sam. During her senior year of college, Sam was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Between missing classes for doctors appointments and dealing with the onset of symptoms, graduating from college was a huge feat, but Sam didn’t stop there. Rather than using Parkinson’s as an excuse, Sam has used this as her inspiration to be a special education teacher in order to teach those students that no matter what they are facing they can go on to achieve success. She has shared her story through the Wisconsin Parkinson’s Association and organized annual benefits that have raised thousands of dollars for Parkinson’s research. Sam is a huge Harvard fan wearing her t-shirt every week, but what she probably doesn’t know is that I am her biggest fan. Her determination is truly inspirational and has reminded me to take advantage of every opportunity I have here at Harvard.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I don’t really know where I see myself in 10 years, which is pretty exciting.  As of now I am going into marketing and advertising, but in the next few years I really want to explore and figure out what job I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. Although I don’t know where I want to be, in 10 years I hope to be starting a family and I hope that I have found a job that I am really passionate about.

Growing up, what was your dream job?
Growing up my dream job seemed to change every single year. From cowgirl, grocery store cashier and author to paleontologist and doctor my list seemed to span every single field and change based on what we were learning about in school.

If you could have dinner with 5 people (living, dead or fictional) who would they be and why?
If I could have dinner with any 5 people, I would have dinner with my best girl friends from home. Going to college so far away from home has been a big adjustment because I don’t get to see family and friends as much as I would like to. Between moving away, different timing of breaks, holidays with families and summer jobs, we haven’t all had dinner together in years. I have been friends with the same girls for over 10 years and there is no one I would rather spend a night with then them.

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