Davis reaches out; service to others is his mission

Washington University students are by definition “exceptional,” but there are some who just simply need a new word to describe their character, intelligence, energy, drive and sense of caring.

Glenn K. Davis could be the definition of that new word.

Glenn Davis
Glenn Davis reads to 6-year-old students Lexus Brown (left) and Dasha Hawkins at Ford Elementary School in St. Louis. Davis says his passion is helping others, and he plans to apply his rich experiences to helping students in the St. Louis city and county public schools after graduation. He also plans to attend law school and pursue a career in social justice or nonprofit management. – Photo by David Kilper

Davis is originally from Georgia but grew up in Wooster, Ohio. He discovered as early as grade school that as an African-American in a predominantly Caucasian environment, some would see and treat him differently.

“I was teased for being a Southerner, for being black, for having ‘black hair,'” Davis says.

“It made me acknowledge race at a young age.

“I just wanted to be treated the same as everyone else.”

Davis decided then and there that he would use his sharp mind and intelligence to rise up and make a difference in the world by helping others do the same.

“Academics has always been first and foremost in my life,” he says. “My parents always encouraged me to do the best that I can do.”

By all accounts, Davis has certainly done his best.

He will graduate with honors and will receive a degree in international business from the Olin School of Business. He also majored in Social Thought and Analysis in the College of Arts & Sciences.

He plans a life of service, already well exemplified throughout his undergraduate career.

As a freshman, Davis was an excellent student and enjoyed “hanging out and having fun,” but by the middle of the school year he felt there was something missing. He took an inventory of his life: He enjoyed college; he had good friends; he loved sports; but there was still a void he needed to fill.

He recounts: “I asked myself, ‘What gives me the most enjoyment? When do I feel the most content? When do I feel truly alive? What is my passion?’

Olin School of Business;
College of Arts & Sciences

“Then it came to me, and I began to see the common thread of my past experiences. My passion was helping others, and I needed to do more of it.”

Soon after, Davis joined a new program called “Each One Teach One,” which helps students of the St. Louis Desegregation Program through a partnership between the University and the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation — the organization that runs the desegregation program. Each One Teach One mostly serves disadvantaged African-American youths in kindergarten through 12th grade.

He then became coordinator of the program, and through service, he found his calling.

Davis also contributed countless hours to another program called “Beyond the Surface,” which joins students from St. Louis city and county public schools with University students through community service.

He also served as a resident adviser for the Office of Residential Life; was a committee chair and member on the Campus Week of Dialogue on Race Relations; and worked as a summer leader in the University’s Office of the Treasurer and as operations coordinator for Teach For America in the Bronx, N.Y., this past summer.

As if that didn’t keep him busy enough, he also completed a semester of study at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain.

Stephanie Kurtzman, coordinator for community service and women’s programs in the University’s Office of Student Activities, and adviser to the Each One Teach One and Beyond the Surface programs, says Davis’ commitment to service and civic participation is constant.

Kurtzman says, “As coordinator for Each One Teach One, Glenn oversaw every detail of the program, including recruiting, training, and supporting more than 200 undergraduate tutors; developing and implementing a tutor enrichment series to educate tutors about current issues in education, race relations and youth development; collaborating with the St. Louis Public Schools’ desegregation program; and ultimately contributing significantly to establishing a shared vision for Washington University’s contribution to marginalized communities of African-American youth and families in north St. Louis.

“He is one of the most talented students I’ve met in all my years at the University. But he also is a person of warmth, intellect, humility and generosity. He is truly delightful to know.”

Davis is trying to decide between three one- or two-year fellowships in urban and public affairs or education, which he has been offered to begin in New York City after graduation. Then he plans to attend law school and pursue a career in social justice or nonprofit management, sparked by a senior project on “Sex Orientation Discrimination Policies in Schools” and his current internship with the American Civil Liberties Union.

“I’ve been blessed with talent, experience and people that believe in me,” Davis says.

“I can only return that and show people I believe in them by helping others.”