At first glance, Dannie appears to be your typical “girly girl.” She always dresses fashionably for school and is makes sure to accessorize, donning her wrist with golden bangles. Give her lattes, books, flowers, bring her to cute coffee shops, pastry shops or a new boutique, and her heart will be happy.
But there is so much more to her than meets the eye.
She is currently pursuing business/economics and is also in a journalism class at Wheaton College. Her two biggest passions however are fashion and writing.
“My dream job would be working as a magazine editor for Vogue or any other fashion magazine,” she says, preferably based in New York or Chicago.
“Fashion is an art to me and I think it is much more than what you put on or buy,” Dannie says. One of her favorite quotes is from Gossip Girls’ Blair Waldorf: “Fashion is the most powerful art there is. It’s a movement, design, and architecture all in one. It shows the world who we are and who we’d like to be.” But as long as she is given the chance to exercise her love of writing, and photography which she has an eye for, she would love to work for any fashion magazine.
“But I would also love to be a mum.”.
Yes, all this she would trade to have a family.
Fashion magazine editor? If her husband has a stable job and can earn enough income, she would gladly stay home to spend time with her kids and put her family before her career.
Live in New York City? She would trade that to live in Denver with the rest of her family. “Just like how I had all my cousins, I want my kids to have all their cousins as well,” Dannie says. And here’s why family comes at the top of her priority list.
Dannie was born and raised in Colorado. She is the youngest of four siblings in the family, and speaks of her family fondly. She especially looks up to her parents.
“Their relationship is something I really look up to,” Dannie says. “They’re such good role models in my life, be it for leadership or faith and loving us kids through thick and thin.”
Besides having her three siblings as childhood playmates, she had the luxury of having her cousins live five minutes from her home. They practically grew up their whole lives together Denver, Colorado. Some of her best childhood memories are from just playing outside with her family where there were no distractions from technology, unlike kids today who would just have their eyes glued to their iPads.
“I feel really blessed that I didn’t have that and we would always be outside,” Dannie says.
They all also attended the same charter school from kindergarten to 12th grade, so carpooling was a frequent affair and remain some of her favourite memories.
It is unsurprising how her cousins and sisters have been some of her best friends till today. Thanksgiving and Christmas every year becomes an exciting affair as she gets to be reunited with her family.
“I consider my childhood to be the best childhood ever.”
When asked what she would do if she were to die tomorrow, it was without much hesitation that she said, “I would go home to Colorado and be with all my family and friends. I would have my mum’s home-cooked meal and read the Bible and just spend it with my family.”
It is no wonder that her favorite item (besides coffee) is from her family as well. Her aunt’s mother hand-knitted a colorful blanket for her when she was born and she has had it ever since. She is inseparable from her blanket, as clearly seen from how it is in almost all of her childhood pictures, and how it’s also in her Wheaton dorm now, she “cannot sleep without it.”
It is because of one of her sisters that she is studying in Wheaton today, She describes Jessica as her role model and best friend, “Just because she went here and loved the experience, I knew I would love it too, because we’re like the same person.”
Her life hasn’t been all that picture-perfect however. Earlier this year in June, Dannie had to undergo jaw surgery to fix her bite through orthognathic surgery. Her jaw was broken and repositioned so her bite would fit together, using plates to connect it to the hinge. Her mouth was then wired shut, using wires inserted through her braces to join her top teeth to her bottom teeth. This meant that she could not eat for three and half weeks, instead put on a liquid diet, using a syringe inserted at the side of her mouth to feed herself. Neither could she talk, let alone mumble a single word.
“It was the hardest thing that I had to do because you don’t understand how wonderful it is to communicate with other people physically until you can’t,” she recalled, “You feel so alone, you couldn’t ever engage in conversation and you’d just sit there.” But it was her then boyfriend who journeyed with her through this frustrating time. “He would come over quite a few times a week, not even my friends came over as much as he did.” And he knew that he wouldn’t be able to talk to her either, yet he still came. And whenever he did, he would be fully present with her and make her feel like she wasn’t alone. This would be the most meaningful thing someone has ever done for her.
This wasn’t the only dramatic thing that happened this summer though. Slightly more than a month after orthognathic surgery on her jaw, she actually fractured it. Her best friend was driving and Dannie was in the passenger seat, and they were en route to her best friend’s house when the car accident happened. As they were approaching a green light, an F150 truck on the opposite side of the road tried to make the turning into the side street in front of them. The truck driver’s misjudgement of their distance and speed resulted in a collision that flipped his truck onto the car Dannie was in and then land on another car. This wasn’t what injured Dannie surprisingly, instead it was the impact from the airbag that opened that broke her jaw. Both her best friend and the truck driver came out unscathed. “It was a miracle,” she exclaimed as she recalls the horrific incident, and thanks God that she is still alive.
Despite a dramatic summer, Dannie remained cheerful and has taken her shortcomings in her stride. Having escaped what could have been a fatal or even deathly accident, she has developed a greater sense of appreciation for the blessings in her life and the people around her. When asked what she would be remembered for, Dannie said she strove to be the best mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend to all those around her. Dannie literally and metaphorically, lives for her family.