Danielle Straka ’09
Adoption case manager, A Family in Bloom Adoptions, Jamaica
Danielle Straka


After earning a Master of Social Work degree from Roberts Wesleyan College (Rochester, N.Y.), Danielle served as the director of Robin’s Nest Children’s Home in Montego Bay, Jamaica. She stepped down from that role in 2017, gained permanent residence in Jamaica and settled down in Negril with a foster son (pictured above in orange). In addition to working remotely as an adoption case manager for A Family in Bloom Adoptions, she formed her own company that provides virtual assistance and life-coaching services.

In what ways did Northwestern prepare you for the path your career has taken?

My social work practicum was with the Department of Human Services with a social worker who provided case management for children in foster care and for families at risk for having their children placed in foster care. Many times in my jobs since then, I have applied what I learned through that internship. Another impactful hands-on experience was the Spring Service Partnership trip I took to Mexico. My teammates and I didn’t really know each other before, but we became close, which taught me about the blessing of working hard alongside one another toward the same goal and being open to new friendships. Those lessons have carried over into how I relate with coworkers as well as volunteers who come to Robin’s Nest.

What do you appreciate most about your social work education from Northwestern?

I appreciate the faith perspective the professors incorporated while still challenging us to think critically. I grew so much through witnessing their passion for social work and for Christ. When I was a student, there were two primary professors and 10 to 15 students per social work class. The relationships that developed in that learning environment were something I couldn’t have gotten elsewhere. My professors knew my story and my passions and encouraged and challenged me in the areas I needed it most.

What did you gain from your Northwestern experience beyond just a great education?

What I cherish most are the friendships I made, primarily with the girls I roomed with and who lived on the same floor. The heart-to-hearts, Blue Bunny ice cream runs, dressing up for the Winter Formal—the community that developed between us is something special. To this day the ties are strong, and I’m still blessed by their friendship despite the distance between us.

How do you manage the challenges of your current role, and what is most fulfilling?

I manage the challenges through prayer; self-care such as reading, beach time and walks; and utilizing my Google calendar and keeping lists! The most fulfilling parts of my current life are seeing my foster son laugh or show me what he learned in class, and helping my clients have more time for their passions and personal lives.