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AACC Graduate Overcomes Obstacles; Reaches Out to Teens

After graduating from Anne Arundel Community College last year with an associate’s degree in addictions counseling (and a 3.97 GPA), Daniel Brannon, 49, was also one of 20 recipients out of a pool of 20,000 to be named a Pearson Prize National Fellow – and earn a coveted $10,000 Pearson Prize for Higher Education.

With half of his award money, Brannon last fall also achieved a longtime dream with the launch of a nonprofit after-school arts and music program for teens ages 13-17.

The son of an alcoholic, Brannon was into drugs and alcohol at 10, a ward of the courts by 11 and had quit school by the fifth grade. Homelessness, time in jail and other institutions as well as the loss of a longtime girlfriend to an overdose were the primary themes of his story – until he got sober more than five years ago.

His nonprofit organization, called The IMPACT Society, opened its doors in November 2011 at its Columbia location. Specifically designed to operate during the hours when many teens are likely to engage in at-risk behaviors, the afternoon program offers a comprehensive music and fine arts experience including instruction in playing musical instruments, painting, sculpting, crafts, various dance disciplines and more.

Brannon said he attributed much of his success to the support he received from his professors, who convinced him he could succeed.

“I am very grateful to have been blessed with such awesome teachers as Sara Meinsler, Beth Potter, Buck Zeller and Kathy Hayes! I love AACC!” he said.

Since graduating from AACC, the Annapolis resident is also enrolled full time at University of Baltimore, where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in human services administration. Danny plans to load up each semester and keep going until he earns a master’s degree in addictions science. While at AACC, Brannon excelled academically and was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Omicron Theta Chapter. Also a talented musician, he worked full time to pay for his studies while also volunteering his time, resources and leadership to numerous organizations.

To learn more about Brannon’s story, check out his video http://pearsonfoundation.org/pearsonprize/2011/fellows.html.