Dominique Howard ’17 ~ Badgers, Beatles, and New Beginnings

Mon, 05/12/2014 - 10:00am
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When Dominique Howard joined the Boys & Girls Club of the Gulf Coast as a 5-year-old growing up in Pass Christian, Miss., she never dreamed that the organization would someday help pay for her college education.

Howard, the daughter of a single mother and sister to two younger siblings, spent afternoons and summers at the Boys & Girls Club, learning the value of hard work and developing a love of service and giving back to the community. Her senior year of high school, Howard was given the opportunity to compete for a college scholarship through Boys & Girls Club Mississippi Youth of the Year competition.

“Right before I enrolled at Spring Hill,” says Howard, “I went through a pretty intensive statewide interview process meeting with judges, and talking about my plans for college and goals for the future. In June, I was notified that I’d won the scholarship. I couldn’t have been more thrilled.”

That August, Howard began classes at Spring Hill College and soon determined that her passion lay with education, language, and children. As a secondary education and English major with a minor in Spanish, Howard plans to teach through the Peace Corps or Jesuit Volunteer Corps upon graduation, and then later use that experience to instruct inner-city high school students in Spanish language, history, and customs.

“My interest in language has really been prominent my entire life,” says Howard. “Having a Puerto Rican mother, I’ve been surrounded by it. Beginning in high school, though, I really started becoming fond of the Hispanic/Latin American culture beyond just my home life. I knew then that I needed to add Spanish as an area of study in college.”

Howard, who is just finishing her first year at SHC, has found the coursework to be challenging and enlightening. Reflecting on her first two semesters, Howard found Introduction to Literature (English 121), taught by Fr. Michael Williams, S.J., her most enjoyable and fascinating class so far.

“Fr. Williams is very passionate when discussing books and he loves to hear opinions on what we thought was happening and how similar situations might affect our own lives,” says Howard. “Through his teaching style, Fr. Mike found a way to relate to each and every one of us, be it by playing ‘When I’m 64’ by the Beatles on the first day of class, or by bringing in outside activities, like the operetta, to us.”

An associate professor of English and writing at Spring Hill College, Fr. Williams found Howard equally enthusiastic and open to learning.

“Dominique was always prepared and very engaged in what we were studying and discussing,” says Fr. Williams. “She is a very positive, friendly, and outgoing person. Dominique is going to have a great experience here at Spring Hill College.”

The campus’s small student-to-teacher ratio was one of two main reasons Howard was initially drawn to the Spring Hill College campus. The other factor that played into her decision was the SHC dedication to service, something Howard and her family have been passionate about for as long as she can remember.

“I love giving back, and finding a school that appreciated those values as much as myself made it stand out to me more than any other college I was thinking of attending,” says Howard. “Also, at Spring Hill, I’m a name, not a number. The relationship the Badger Connection Guides and Springhillians talk about on campus tours is so true. You walk into class and the professors know you and are always so willing to help.”

Howard continues to be involved with the Boys & Girls Club in Mobile, Ala., through the Spring Hill College Foley Center. She has also done work for Habitat for Humanity as a member of the SHC Rugby team. In addition, Howard joined Delta Delta Delta sorority, the Chemistry Club, and the SHC Greenkeepers.

“Like any college or new place, Spring Hill is what you make it,” says Howard. “There’s so much on campus to enjoy. You have to get involved and put yourself out there to experience new things and have fun.”

Looking to her next three years on campus, Howard is excited about the future and ready to tackle anything that comes her way. She embraces each new day by being optimistic and remembering the motto, “life happens.”

“When there’s a roadblock in my path, it’s up to me to handle it,” says Howard. “We all have choices—letting things consume us, or using challenges to make us into better people who learn from opportunities. For me, it’s all about learning and growing. And what better place to do that than at Spring Hill?”