Employee Profile: Danielle Walker, CDCR Transportation Unit, Division of Adult Institutions

If you asked Danielle Walker three years ago, what she thought she would be doing in 2010 — chances are it would not have been “teaching English in remote villages in Thailand.”

Later this year, that is exactly what she plans to do.

A lifelong dream of three childhood friends was to take a trip around the world.

One day during the recent challenging economic times, Danielle and her friends, Courtney Muro and Kaberly Doerr decided that instead of just traveling, why not travel AND help those less fortunate – through teaching, and volunteering.

After a few months, the three agreed to start their bold adventure in Thailand.

“Courtney came up with these plans — travel,” said Walker. “We then decided as we traveled we were going to have goals. Our main goal was to help children, while seeing the world at the same time.

“Originally our destination was going to be South America. Our plans changed to Southeast Asia when our girlfriends decided to move to Bali (in May). Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam are all countries that we are interested in visiting.”

Danielle grew up in Folsom, in the world of CDCR, and is the daughter of former CSP Sacramento Warden, James Walker who retired in December 2009 after a 33 year career of service in the Department. After graduating from Sac State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development in 2008, Danielle was hired at CDCR as an analyst.

Many people ask her, “why travel to third world countries, and leave a secure job?”

“I need to help children, and travel while I am still young. I really feel that I was meant to help children, and this is the perfect opportunity.”

“Traveling makes you grow as a person, exposes you to the realities of the world. I think I need to see this now, because I may want to live my life differently. Travel is better when you are young, when you are not afraid of the world yet. With the economy and the budget crisis here, now is the best time to travel. I love my job and the people I work with. But the emotional rollercoaster of the cuts and furloughs has led me to explore other options.”

To save money, they plan to travel using backpacks and public transportation. After 6 months, they hope to continue the journey in Central and South America, and maybe even Africa, taking 3-6 month teaching jobs (English) with children as they go. To help pay for the trip, the trio has saved and set up a network of devoted family and friends who are sending them resources on a regular basis.
“The support from family and friends has been wonderful. They have really helped us pull it together.” “We are still looking for contacts and information, and if people have suggestions we would love to hear from them.”