Danielle Spencer grew up around numbers. She loves them. They’re in her DNA. And soon she will graduate with her master’s degree from the Manderson Graduate School of Business in just a year after also earning her Bachelor of Science from The University of Alabama.
“I’ve always loved math,” said Spencer, whose major was finance for both degrees. “My mom has a finance degree from Alabama A&M and I learned from her that there is so much you can do in finance.”
The Madison native already has a job lined up at Regions Bank in Birmingham as a corporate bank credit products analyst after graduation. She could’ve gone anywhere with her degree, but Alabama is where she believes she should be.
“My dad is a retired Army officer and we moved around a lot,” she said. “I knew I wanted to stay close to home and Tuscaloosa so I can continue to give back to the community and the University. I was thinking either Nashville or Birmingham and the job I wanted ended up being in Birmingham.”
Logistics might be a benefit, but Spencer is also eager to help the people of Alabama.
“Through the Business Honors program, we were working with people in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham that didn’t know how to maintain proper financial records — both personal and business,” Spencer explained. “In my Business Honors classes we were encouraged to help small entrepreneurs/nonprofits that may not have access to these resources otherwise.”
UA helped Spencer realize other ways she can use her knowledge. She was part of Manderson’s first-ever Diversity Forum, which is aimed at increasing underrepresented students’ exposure to graduate business education.
“Being behind the scenes of the Diversity Forum was very interesting,” she said. “There were some very cool partnerships, like we had with Stillman College, that opened my own eyes. The Diversity Forum assisted underserved students who may not be aware of the graduate school’s numerous opportunities.”
As an undergraduate Spencer was heavily involved in several organizations aimed at enhancing the college experiences of students belonging to underrepresented populations, including serving as a student ambassador for the Black Faculty Staff Association; executive board member for the University of Alabama’s Black Business Student Association; student fellow for the Culverhouse Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion office; and as a mentor for the Lucy’s Legacy women of color living- learning community.
Her involvement and academic achievements in the Business Honors program allowed her to earn recognition and membership to a number of University honor societies. Over the summer of 2022, she also completed a prestigious internship with the FBI.
“I had the opportunity to oversee the bureau’s financial aspects, including the U.S. president’s proposed spending for the FBI for the fiscal year,” Spencer said. “I also learned the role of FBI agents and what they do on a daily basis specifically in the financial division.”
Her college experiences both on and off campus only solidify the path Spencer has planned for herself.
“At Regions, part of my job will be figuring out who would be a good fit for Regions’ financial products that we can offer them,” she said. “I know when people see others like them, they can relate to them. And when people see other people like them succeeding in this career field, they think ‘Oh, I can do that.’”
Her May 6 graduation and new job are just the steppingstones to Spencer’s ultimate goals.
“My goal in five years is to complete the series exams to become a certified financial analyst and eventually the CFO of a Fortune 500 company — maybe my own.”
She believes enrolling at the University was the very first step that made all the difference.
“The best decision I made was coming to UA. The community is so welcoming and the opportunities I have had to interact with and impact others, I will cherish for the rest of my life.”