By Brandy Young
Magazine students, parents, and school staff gathered on Tuesday, May 17 for the inaugural Rattler Scholars Banquet. This program rewards and recognizes students in their freshman through senior years who have maintained a GPA of 3.5 or higher each semester. For this kick-off event, Magazine school administrators sought out a Magazine alumnus who would be aninspiration to the students. Diana McDaniel was the ideal selection.
Diana (Abrahamson) McDaniel was born and raised in Magazine, Arkansas, and is an Alumnus of J.D. Leftwich High School (now Magazine High School). McDaniel then earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and then a Master’s in Public Administration from the Institute of Government of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. For the past 15 years, shehas been affiliated with Arkansas Children’s Hospital in progressive leadership roles. In 2017, McDaniel relocated to Northwest Arkansas with her family to open Arkansas Children’s Northwest, where she currently serves as the Vice President. She is responsible for overseeing the facility, business operations, and ancillary services of the hospital. McDaniel is also board-certified as a Fellow of the American College of Medical Practice Executives. She is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors for Springdale Chamber of Commerce and is the past president of the Arkansas Medical Group Management Association.
Diana McDaniel’s professional successes are unending. However, growing up in a small, rural town, she understands how easy it is to feel like there are limited opportunities.McDaniel wanted the students to know that success is not contingent on coming from a place of privilege. “At times, during both high school and college, I didn’t always know where I would sleep next or where I would get my next meal,” says Diana. She contributes her success to two things: Grit and a Moral Compass.
“Your grit will contribute more to your successes than your IQ or any other inherited gifts,” stated McDaniel. “I believe grit made the difference in my achieving and outperforming my peers as I rose through the career ladder. Grit got me through some of the most difficult seasons of my life.” That grit kept McDaniel pushing herself to achieve her goals. She worked 2 to 3 jobs at a time to put herself through college: babysitting, cleaning, waitressing, and even changing oil and tires.
The second attribute that McDaniel believes contributed to her success is a moral compass, which she defines as “a person’s ability to judge what is right and wrong and act accordingly.” She believes that teachers, church members, and community leaders of her childhood in Magazine helped to guide her and steer her to a career in public service. “I knew I wanted to change the story for kids like me who grew up in impoverished areas with little resources who statistically weren’t likely to succeed,” McDaniel stated. She commended the Magazineeducators, parents, and community members for still working to be a part of the solution for a brighter future for their students.
McDaniel urged students to follow their moral compass when using their phones and social media. “Time is finite, which means how we spend our time matters. I implore you to choose what is real over what is on a screen.”
McDaniel firmly believes in giving back to her community. Herleadership focuses on growing young leaders, inspiring healthcare careers, and healthcare workforce development. She truly cares about the future of the healthcare community. Dr. Jared Cleveland, former Superintendent of Magazine School District, and current Superintendent of Springdale School District, commends Diana’s achievements. “She’s an amazing leader with nothing but potential and promise in front of her.” Dr. Cleveland states that Diana’s greatest strength is “her heartfelt servant leadership. She leads the front and the back, ushering calm and confidence among all that serve. I’m thankful to be a part of the community she chooses to serve.”
McDaniel concluded her presentation with this advice: “Find a mentor. Find something to be a part of that is positive.” She believes that “spending your time wisely, investing in friendships and relationships that matter will yield healthy fruit in your lives.”