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Northeast Iowa Community College names Danielle Meyer an Alumni Shining Star

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Danielle recalls visiting her grandma’s classroom when she was a small child, then growing up to become an NICC student herself.

Photo of Danielle Meyer and daughter LydiaWhile working at Head Start, a preschool program for low-income families, Danielle Meyer noticed a pattern among her young students. After holiday breaks, they always returned to school tired and hungry. Very, very hungry.

“When students are at school, meals are guaranteed. But many of them don't have that food stability during the nearly two-week Christmas break,” said Danielle.

That’s why, in 2016, she started collecting food items and placing them in what she calls “Belly Bags.” Danielle sends the bags home with her students to help them stay nourished during the holiday break. The Belly Bags are filled with foods like Easy Mac, soup, granola bars, applesauce, fruit cups, crackers and oatmeal.

“These are foods young children can prepare on their own if they don’t have help from an adult,” said Danielle.

Danielle’s efforts to help young, low-income students have skyrocketed since 2016. Danielle and her 9-year-old daughter, Lydia, now collect, fill and deliver belly bags to more than 140 Head Start students in Dubuque County each year. The local community has become involved by donating food items and money to help Danielle fill the bags.

“It feels magical to me. As an adult there aren’t a lot of magical moments left at Christmastime, but this . . . this does it for me,” she said. 

Danielle earned her Associate of Arts degree from Northeast Iowa Community College in 2015. She is the granddaughter of retired NICC instructor, Nancy Gourley. Danielle recalls visiting her grandma’s classroom when she was a small child, then growing up to become an NICC student herself.

“Northeast Iowa Community College holds a special place in my heart,” said Danielle. “I learned many of my personal values from my grandma and her colleagues at NICC.”

For her service in public education and commitment to the well-being of Head Start students and their families, Northeast Iowa Community College has selected Danielle Meyer as an Alumni Shining Star. 

Northeast Iowa Community College’s place our region is forever connected to the thousands of students of all ages who enrolled, completed a degree and started bright career futures. NICC alumni have made a powerful impact on local communities and are often connected to one another as family; their success stories honor the College and its mission and purpose. In this spirit, the College honors Alumni Shining Stars during the year to celebrate standout graduates who have transformed their lives and families through their example.




Tags: Alumni Shining Star