Profile: Danielle Upton
Danielle Upton is a 2007 graduate who grew up in Stuart, FL and landed at the University of Charleston due to her love for tennis. Her parents are from West Virginia; her father is a former tennis coach for UC. When she came to the university for her recruitment trip, there was an “immediate connection with the girls,” says Danielle. Her recruitment trip to UC was not the only recruiting trip she experienced, but it was the only one that felt right. She said, “I went from my parent’s van straight into the UC van and was met with lots of smiles and hugs.” Danielle applied for and was awarded the prestigious Welch Colleague Scholarship, which made UC affordable!
Learning from Coach Shari Reed and her teammates created very fond memories. Her favorite? Winning the Women’s Tennis Conference Championship in 2005. She learned from her coach and teammates how to win and lose as a team. Although tennis was a major part of her college experience, she was also involved in Theta Kappa Pi, served as SGA President, cheered on the football crowds as MoHarv, and volunteered with the youth groups at Morris United Methodist Church here in Kanawha City.
“When I was around twelve years old while working in a soup kitchen with my mom, I felt the call to ministry,” said Danielle. She shared it was the first time she realized there was poverty so close to her home and a real need to give back to her community. She felt God was placing it on her heart to do that through serving in the church.
So, when she graduated from UC with her psychology degree, she returned to Florida and attended Asbury Theological Seminary, where she graduated with her Masters of Divinity in 2012.
She compares going through the pledging process for Theta Kappa Pi to being like the ordination process. In both cases, “the pressure and stress are immense, but the interviewers on the other side of the table want you to succeed!” She was ordained in 2020 and is now serving at her second appointment with her husband, Stuart, and two boys Ian (7) and Caleb (3).
She and Stuart, who is from Huntington, WV, met while volunteering with a church youth group in Florida. Danielle serves as lead pastor and Stuart as associate pastor for Centenary United Methodist Church in Quincy, FL. As she reflects on her thirteen-year journey to ordination, she said her greatest lesson learned was ‘no’ doesn’t always mean ‘no.’ It sometimes means it’s time to grow. If you know in your heart you were meant to do something, keep going after it.”
When asked what advice she would give to UC’s graduating seniors, she said, “It can be lonely to transition from always having something to do on campus and lots of people around to living by yourself and starting to really become a working adult. Don’t forget; you will always have a family at UC. Turn back to them for their support.”
“My time volunteering with the after-school program as part of the Welch Scholarship community service hour requirements showed me how you could be involved in your community in a practical way,” said Danielle. Community Involvement is one of the core values the University of Charleston promotes and works to instill in our students. Danielle is a wonderful example of how to live a life by sharing that value with others. It is evident in her call to ministry as a young girl, appreciating her opportunities to serve as a Welch Scholar and serving her church and surrounding communities with lots of energy and love. Congrats, Golden Eagle, on all your success!!