“The plot has thickened,” said Danielle Stokes, ’13, not at all ominously. “I am a very planned person. This was definitely not part of my plan.”

The last time Stokes was featured in this publication — the winter 2019 issue — she was an associate at Richmond law firm McGuireWoods in land use and real estate transactions. When she sat down to be interviewed months later, her career had already taken her in a different direction — and not, as when the aforementioned phrase is typically uttered, in a negative way.

Stokes is now a faculty fellow at the Syracuse University College of Law, living somewhere other than Virginia for the first time in her life.

“I can’t say that I had really considered [working in academia],” said the Martinsville, Virginia, native. “This is uncharted territory for me.”

That applies to her new field and the spontaneity of her decision to enter it. Stokes’ legal career was on the upswing in Richmond, where she majored in philosophy, politics, economics, and law at UR and served as president of her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Inc., along with numerous other extracurricular activities, before graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law.

But despite a promising future in private practice, something was missing — leading her to higher education.

“I realize there are challenges in every sector,” Stokes said. “In the public sector, there is bureaucracy, limited funding, limited resources. In the private sphere, there are people who are not neces-sarily concerned about the same issues as you.

“To me, the sweet spot is educational spaces,” she added. “People are forward-thinking, progressive, and concerned about the future. I think that’s what has drawn me in.”

Even if things haven’t gone exactly according to plan.