EWU Presidential Scholarship recipient and incoming Gamma Cohort Honors College student, Mr. Davon Davis, of Dougherty Comprehensive High School in Albany, Ga., aspires to become an attorney, help others
Davon Luis Davis’ mother passed away from cancer in January 2020, after suffering from lupus for years. His father wasn’t in the picture, so the high schooler moved in with his older sister and her husband.
Understandably, Davis was devastated over his mother’s death. His grades dropped a bit, and he received his first ever C.
“I tell everyone my mother was my biggest fan,” Davis said. “She did everything for me, from helping me study for spelling tests in elementary school to helping me practice for mock trials in high school. She was my best friend.”
Despite his grief, Davis regained his academic focus, performing well on the SAT and being named the STAR student for his high school—an honor awarded to the graduating senior with the highest overall SAT score—and keeping his eyes on the prize. Tomorrow in Albany, Georgia, he will graduate as valedictorian of Dougherty Comprehensive High School’s class of 2021 with a cumulative 4.062 GPA. This coming fall he will enroll at Edward Waters University on a Presidential Scholarship and as a member of the Gamma Cohort of the Honors College at EWU.
Edward Waters University (EWU) President Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr. and First Lady Tyciee Faison couldn’t be happier. They heard about Davis from his English teacher, who also taught Davis’ friend Brianna Pendergrass, Miss Edward Waters University 2021-2022.
“He’s a bright young man,” President Faison said. “His English teacher spoke extremely highly of him. We intend to be ‘intentionally intrusive’ to make intentional change in his life during his time at Edward Waters University.”
Davis was born in New London, Connecticut, but has lived in Georgia most of his life. Although he’s being recruited by other institutions, he’s excited about starting school in the fall at Edward Waters, Florida’s first independent institution for higher learning and first Historically Black College or University (HBCU).
He learned about EWU from Pendergrass and from his mentor, Jasamine Dixon, who taught him social studies in middle and high school and is now the 6-12 grade social studies coordinator for Dougherty County High School.
“I saw the success Brianna was having at Edward Waters so I started following President Faison,” Dixon said. “I saw a social media post he made about the hands-on mentorship that they provide students, and there was one phrase in particular, ‘intrusive engagement,’ that kind of stood out to me.
“It stood out because we know a lot of kids go to college without any family members who’ve gone to college before them, and they really need someone to guide them,” Dixon continued. “I thought Davon would benefit from being in an environment where the leaders are that engaged.”
Dixon was impressed when first lady Faison came to Georgia earlier this week to attend Davis’ robing ceremony, a pre-graduation exercise.
“I think her being there says Edward Waters is invested in not only getting these kids to attend their institution but also in getting them to the finish line,” Dixon said. “It says a lot about their awareness of the challenges some kids face and tells me they’re 100% invested in the students that decide to attend Edward Waters.”
Indeed they are.
Administrators at Edward Waters University don’t just talk the talk about student engagement. They walk the walk. And they do that for all of their students — not just the ones like Davis who are academically gifted.
Since 2018, under the leadership of President Faison the University has implemented several new student success and retention focused programs for students, including:
- The Honors College, which offers an enhanced and more rigorous academic curriculum, extensive opportunities for academic and experiential enrichment, undergraduate research, placements incompetitive high-quality summer scholarly internships and externship programs, as well as support to enhance the propensity of students earning admission to graduate or professional school.
- The Rev. Charles Pearce Institute, a five–week pre-College summer college credit bearing program aimed at providing students a jumpstart on their freshmen year to further augment and support the academic and personal success of new provisionally admitted students.
- The Tiger Center for Academic Persistence and Success, a year-round, academic support center offering students a wide array of student support services including academic advising, peer tutoring and writing and math labs that focus on ensuring students have the tools they need to successfully navigate college especially during their first and second years of study.
- The Edward Waters “We Got You” program, which pays the balance of students semester charges for both Fall and Spring terms at the outset of each academic year — after all financial aid and other financial support options are exhausted — for all current students in satisfactory academic standing.
“The ‘We Got You’ program has proven to be demonstrably successful,” President Faison said. “This year we were able to assist nearly 500 students to the tune of about $2 million to keep them in school. We’re looking to expand that program by about another half million this year, to keep students in school so we can retain them and help them persist toward graduation. We don’t want a lack of finances to operate as the barrier to them earning their EWU degree.”
“Our fervent mission is to help students identify their particular goals and to push and propel them to those goals by utilizing whatever means necessary, whether that’s academic programs to ensure they stay on track to graduate, internships to build and support them or employment opportunities to grow them,” he continued. “That is truly what we desire for each and every student at our institution. It is our sacred mission. It is why I believe God granted us the opportunity to serve here.”
Davis, president or vice president of several clubs at his high school, has aims towards studying criminal justice at Edward Waters as his ultimate goal is to attend law school and become a lawyer after earning his baccalaureate degree.
“Once I applied to Edward Waters University, President Faison actually called me himself,” Davis said. “I also spoke to Mrs. Faison about future goals I’ve set, and she told me how EWU would be a benefit to helping me achieve those goals.
“First Lady Faison is such a nice person and has assisted me through the process of applying, getting accepted and getting my scholarship,” Davis said. “It actually feels like it’ll be my second home and I haven’t even stepped foot on the EWU campus yet.”
And that’s exactly how the President and First Lady want Davis — and all EWU students — to feel.