This interview was conducted during the 2020-2021 winter break.
Dr. Meredith Davis has worked in education for 25 years now but received the biggest shock of her career in year 24. A month after starting her new role overseeing almost 300 student organizations as the Associate Vice President of Student Engagement at a big New York university in February 2020, the pandemic hit. Let that sink in for a bit. A month into her new role she was sent to work from home in a city she barely knew. Critical relationships with colleagues hadn’t been built yet. You hadn’t met with all the student leaders yet. She probably didn’t even know her way around campus yet. But this was Dr. Davis’ reality and she had to lead. Spoiler: She knocked it out of the park. Listen to her episode to learn how her school returned to campus in the Fall with 80-85% of their students in attendance.
What’s more amazing about Dr. Meredith Davis is her personal journey through education. She is a first-generation low-income college student herself. She was suspended in her first semester and ultimately dismissed from school. Even through all this her school’s administrators in Student Life stuck with her and helped her along her journey. Now she plays the same role in the lives of the students she works with. She says, “I think it's a pay it forward type of ethos that I've acquired, when it comes to education.”
Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Davis also had to address social justice issues early in her tenure. This is a topic she does not hold back on. “I was pulling no punches. I had it. I think I had an epiphany 2.0 about what it means to be Black in this world, not just this country, but this world. So I was giving them the business and I'm gonna keep giving them the business.” Dr. Davis has never been one to sugar coat anything. It may be the East Coast, not walking on eggshells, upbringing or it may be her way of educating you while letting you know the severity of the issue. Either way, she says she’ll always be an educator at heart saying, “I believe I'm an educator with the gift of administration.”
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