Jennifer Davis is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature.
Jen realized after getting to Fairfield that she really wanted a bigger school with a diverse student body. She made the change and moved to UVA.
At UVA, she was able to pursue her love for English, play Club Tennis and was part of the black student alliance.
Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:
Episode Title: Jennifer Davis on UVA: English Major, Black Student Community, and The Lawn.
Episode summary introduction: As a high schooler, Jen loved writing and was part of the school newspaper. She was on the varsity tennis team. She was the president of the equity board. Jen thought she knew what kind of college she wanted to attend. Things, however, turned out a little differently.
Jennifer Davis is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature.
In particular, we discuss the following with her:
Topics discussed in this episode:
Memorable Quote: “...everybody wants a good communicator, everybody wants a good writer. Everybody wants somebody that's going to think critically. And yeah, and so that's kind of why I stuck with that [English].”
Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.
Transcript of the episode’s audio.
I have a lot of memories of the lawn, you know, whether it's whether it's snowball fights, right? in the dead of winter or when it's two degrees outside, you know, visiting friends and their lawn rooms and just kind of hanging out and all of that the lighting of the lawn was huge at the holidays, you know, bringing people together and celebrating and, and then of course, graduation.
Jennifer Davis is a graduate of the University of Virginia (UVA for short) with a Bachelor’s degree in English and English Literature.
Jen was a multi-talented high schooler. She loved writing and was part of the school newspaper. She was on the varsity tennis team. She was the president of the equity board.
Jen thought she knew what kind of college she wanted to attend.
She wanted a small college, away from home.
Things, however, turned out a little differently.
Jen joins us today, to share her experiences as an undergraduate at UVA as well as a Transfer Student.
Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives, Five Highlights from the podcast:
[Rich Experience at UVA]
I love UVA, loved it, love it still. It's a great sort of historical institution, obviously. And I think one of the things, you know, that's so just noteworthy about it is just sort of the complicated history of UVA.
[Why Transfer to UVA]
I was, I was looking for a bit more diversity in terms of the student body. And, you know, I did have some friends from high school that had gone to UVA, not many, but a few. And so I knew a couple people there. So I thought, well, that's good. You know, it wasn't like my entire class a non but I knew a few people. So I knew that if I needed to reach out that I could do.
And I was lucky enough to, to get into Julian Bond's class, your history of the civil rights movement. And, you know, just again, it's one of those things that you, you know, is a big deal at the time. When you think about it later, like, Oh, my gosh, I was too young to actually realize how amazing that experience was and how valuable that was.
[Choosing the Major]
Thinking about a major, I think I approached it from the standpoint of not wanting to box myself in too much, you know, to a particular field, because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do I but I knew that, you know, with any job that I took, or any sort of career path that I pursued, you know, everybody wants a good communicator.
[Advice to Aspiring Students]
Do it for yourself, right? Make your own. You know, the decisions that are right for you, for your family. And just taking all that into consideration and not really kind of listening to the outside noise and listening to your gut and being flexible and willing to adapt.
Venkat Raman 3:57
Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Jen. So without further ado, over to Jennifer Davis!
Venkat Raman 4:06
Okay, so let me welcome you to our podcast, College Matters. Alma Matters. Really, really glad to have you talk about UVA today.
So as you know, and as we've talked in the past, we are catering to an audience of aspiring students, primarily International, but nothing about these stories, as you know, just international I mean, it's pretty universal and applicability. So I'm pretty excited to have you here today and look forward to hearing about your journey.
Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.
Venkat Raman 4:46
Sure thing. Okay, so, let's get started. I think the best way to look at it is looking back at UVA after all these years. What do you think of it? What are your impressions? What did you like, not like?
Yeah, I am. I love UVA. Loved it. Love it still. It's a great sort of historical institution, obviously. And I think one of the things, you know that so you just noteworthy about it is just sort of the complicated history of UVA. And yeah, and just, you know, as a, as a student, I think, you know, you're still young, a little bit, and I think you, I at least didn't fully kind of appreciate it.
Until I had graduated and got older and gotten to the world, and but I think UVA certainly provided me and I would think every student that's there with just a rich, rich, rich history rich experience. And yeah, I, it was a great choice for me, I think.
Venkat Raman 6:08
I know that you transferred out of Fairfield to UVA, so maybe we can start out with why you picked Fairfield. And then we can talk about your high school and then sort of go from there.
Yeah, yeah. So it's a combination, really, that those two questions I, I came from a small Episcopalian High School in Washington, DC, National Cathedral School. And so as an 18 year old, you know, you think you kind of want a similar experience, right, you think that making that transition to college right will be a little easier? If you can find an experience? That's like one that you have already experienced? Right. Um, so Fairfield, in Connecticut, great little school. Obviously, it's a Jesuit institution. And, you know, at the time, it seemed like a good sort of good choice, a good transition, I think at that point, at 18, I was maybe looking for, okay, I need to be for, you know, a little further away from home to sort of get a little experience elsewhere outside of DC, kind of outside of the immediate DC area. Um, and so that was kind of the thinking, right, like, it seemed to kind of match what I thought I needed at the time at 18. And I think that's kind of the the lesson, right is just even your when you're 18, it's a big decision. Right? good chunk of your college. Yeah, is a is a big decision. So, you know, at the time, it seemed, it seemed great, it seemed right. But I think there's a lesson there. And just knowing that there's no shame in kind of making changes and understanding that your needs can evolve and might need to try something else. So
Venkat Raman 8:09
No, absolutely, absolutely.
Venkat Raman 8:15
So in high school, what kind of things were you into? What are your interests? Probably your passions, if any?
Yeah, so um, so I, in this passion clearly hasn't gone anywhere in many years, but, but I love to write. I was a part of the school newspaper, in high school. What also has not changed is my love of tennis. So I was on the varsity tennis team in high school and played for years, which was great. I was also part of the Black Student Union, and I was also president of the equity board. So that was sort of a newer role on the student governing board. And, and so, you know, again, trying to, like find ways within an institution to make change and make your voice heard and kind of try new things. I've always been sort of an introvert. So I tried to kind of push myself in, you know, hey, let me run for a student body, you know, roll and see how that goes. So, um, you know, so that was, you know, that was it was good for me. It was good.
Venkat Raman 9:38
With all that, you go over to Fairfield. How was that transition from high school to Fairfield? How was that first year?
Yeah. Oh, yeah. It was interesting. Um, so, you know, I didn't I was the only student from high school to go there that you are and so I didn't. I didn't know anybody. It was kind of have like being kind of on your own little island out there. But it's sort of, you know, I knew that I wanted to kind of push myself to grow and learn. And, you know, being out there kind of taking things on alone, you know, felt like a big deal, you know that, you know, you want to be a grown up as an 18 year old. Um, you know, I will say, you know, it was an interesting year, my second day of class was 9/11.
And oh, wow. Yeah, yeah. And so, you know, being above New York, close to New York, was strange, it was scary, you know, again, 18, there's nobody for my school, I don't know, a soul pretty much. I'm very old.
So, um, but I will say, you know, it did, I think sort of forced me into kind of helping me to grow as sort of an independent, self sufficient adult, right? It kind of, you know, propels you maybe a little something like that, especially and, you know, I feel for students who are kind of going through something quite similar right now, sort of a real worldwide tragedy. That it, it helps you prioritize and helps you become, you know, to make intelligent decisions about what you want. And I think that that's a lot of what happened that year, made me realize, like, maybe I don't want to be far away from home, or maybe, you know, maybe I want to be a little in closer proximity, maybe just to have access, like, if I can get if I need to get home quickly, I can get home quickly.
And I think, you know, the other thing that I think I didn't realize, you know, when I went to Fairfield as I thought that I wanted, kind of that continuum of a smaller school, right, to kind of transition easily into college life.
And I thought, well, I think I want a bit more of a diverse experience as in, you know, when you have more people in an institution, you're gonna have more of a diverse group and student body. So.
So I think, you know, at that point, I said, Well, let me look around and, you know, maybe think, again, about some of the schools that I had considered before, but in a completely different context, and completely different from mine. So so that's where UVA came into play.
Venkat Raman 12:54
So why UVA?
Why UVA? So, um, like I said, I think I was, I was looking for a bit more diversity in terms of the student body. And, you know, I did have some friends from high school that had gone to UVA, not many, but a few. And so I knew a couple people there. So I thought, well, that's good. You know, it wasn't like my entire class, but I knew a few people. So I knew that if I needed to arrange out that I could, and that I had a couple contacts down there.
And I will also say, you know, one of the things that I heard that was so great about UVA, is that it really did have a lot of black students, you know, the black student population was a lot bigger than a lot than what you see it a lot of predominantly white institutions. And so I thought, okay, you know, this, this could be and like I said, it was close to home, it was Yeah, you know, like a two and a half hour drive from home. I and I loved Grounds, I love to visit it, you know, my visit there was great.
And it just kind of felt like a good a good choice. Again, going into it with some sense of uncertainty again, but but it felt like a bit. A bit more of a just a gut feeling, you know?
Venkat Raman 14:26
Did you, did you look at some other schools as well or was UVA pretty much it?
I did, yeah, I actually considered, I considered Boston College that was sort of in the running until the end. I even thought about Georgetown, right, coming back to DC and and being here I didn't quite want to be at home home. Right. So you know, I kind of I kind of ruled Georgetown out. And so it kind of, again, I thought about Boston College. Because it was a little bigger than Fairfield, also Jesuit. I'm still north, right. So even further away from home. And you know, UVA again, it just seemed to give me a little bit more of the diversity in terms of students and diversity of experience and opportunity there that just felt like a better choice.
Venkat Raman 15:28
Cool! Now you had to apply all over again. Right? Okay, how was that? How was that like, the second time around?
Yeah, you know, it's, um, it wasn't, it wasn't too bad. It's, you know, I sent app, you know, in I wrote out individual applications to each school and I even did a, an interview and alumni interview with a regional Georgetown representative when I was at Fairfield.
You know, and it was funny, because I was trying to keep it a secret from my roommates, because I just didn't even want the questions. And the Oh, my God, you know, I'm so trying to keep it low key, of course, but it was, it seemed like a bit less of an intense process.
I think, also, because I was I was applying to less schools, I had kind of, you know, when you're, when you have a year under you, you kind of have narrowed, what it is that you think you want, so I kind of had a, an idea of what I was looking for. So it made it a little bit easier.
Venkat Raman 16:42
Sure. And did you ever get any recommendations from professors at Fairfield? Or...
I did, yeah, I got, I got to actually realize now that I think about it two really wonderful recommendations. One was from a Spanish professor. And the other was from a religious studies professor. Who, which is interesting, because English was my major there, and it was at UVA. So you would think like, oh, I'll just get a, you know, get a recommendation from my English professors. But I found that I had connected a bit more with the two professors that that wrote me really nice recommendations. And we're kind of I remember reading them later. And they, you know, they were very glowing and said, You know, we're sorry to see her leave or think about leaving. And it was just, in hindsight, it was, it was nice to see that. So.
Venkat Raman 17:37
How was, how was that transition to UVA as a transfer student? How did that go?
Yeah, I will say, you know, in the, in the beginning, it kind of felt like a, you know, I'm doing this all over again, kind of starting over for the second time, right? You know, you kind of, in a way you feel like a freshman again, but, um, but I think I was really lucky that the transition seemed a bit faster, I think I got, I have to say, kind of lucky, I, you know, where I sort of chose to live. I live, you know, there, UVA is obviously large.
So, and there are a lot of choices for the upper classmen. And where to, where, you know, options for them to live. And so I picked based on a recommendation from one friend of mine from my high school days and right. And so I said, Okay, I'm gonna live there.
And, and I was fortunate that I lived next door to someone who was in a class of mine, and we were, we were riding home or back, you know, back home. On the shuttle, there was a shuttle is a shuttle at UVA, obviously, because grounds are huge. And so we were writing and we're walking, and we're realizing that we're kind of heading in the same direction. And we realized that we live next door to each other. So she is one of my best friends to this day.
And knowing her really, sort of introduced me to her roommates and her roommates friends. And so I quickly sort of developed this kind of crew, where we were in classes together, a couple of us were in the same major English.
And as I mentioned before, you know, UVA has a really strong, tight knit community of black students and, and they just welcomed me so quickly. I mean, that was one of the that's one of the things that transfer students are often afraid of right, like, start, you know, one starting over again and to finding that community.
Venkat Raman 19:55
Yeah. And sometimes it's hard to seek that out. But I really, I really was very fortunate. And a lot of those people that I met that year are still some of my best friends. So yeah.
Venkat Raman 20:12
How was ,how was the transition to the, on the academic side? I mean, how did that go?
Yeah, it was, that was pretty seamless to you know, I, fortunately, you know, I, I, I kind of knew early on at Fairfield that I think, you know, I think maybe this isn't for me. So I tried to take classes pretty intentionally that, you know, were the current the credits would transfer. Right.
So, you know, I took all your basics, your psych, 101, your sociology, 101, obviously, the English classes, because I was pretty sure that I wanted to continue with the English major. So I was really, really lucky that every single one of my credits transferred, so I didn't lose any ground there. And I know, that's not often the case for for a lot of transfer students. And, you know, there, sometimes that involves taking courses over the summer and, and I did some of that, too, right, just to almost to ease my own workload. I, the summer following my first year at UVA actually took a couple courses at the University of Maryland while I was home for the summer, just to, you know, just to get credits and lighten the load.
So I could really focus on the English major, right. Yeah, so from that point of view, it was pretty, it was pretty seamless, I kind of knew I didn't want to change my major, I wanted to keep going with English. And so that was really seamless, frankly. And I think with the English major, in particular, you know, once you start getting into the electives, right, is where you, you know, UVA is huge, but once you get to the electives, you get much smaller classes, you're really having those amazing discussions. And so that's when I started to get fun.
Venkat Raman 22:25
So what did you think of your classmates, your peers at UVA?
Yeah, I mean, just super focused, and ambitious. I mean, we, you know, we, I think we all sort of studied in the way that we need, you know, the ways we needed to kind of study, we kind of were on the same page. In that regard, you know, we, we knew that, you know, we were going to have fun, but we also had to get our business. We were really on the same page there.
And just very, very focused, I had a lot of, I did not have a lot of close friends who were in the English major, a lot of them were psych major, pre med, couple history majors. And so we all, we were kind of all over the place, not really taking the same courses together. But we studied together, we went to the library together, we were, you know, crashing at 3am on papers together in the library.
So, you know, just very genuine people, just, we, then and still, I will say still, you know, really liked to see each other succeed and do well. Which always, you know, if I were to give a piece of advice to students in college or going to college, like fine, find the ambitious ones, find the ones that kind of, you know, are, but know how to focus, right, that kind of in sync with you.
And, and I think that really, really helps, you know, in the tough moments when you're just kids don't want to do this paper. And, but you know that three more of your friends are also working on tough papers. And so it was good to find a great tribe of and, and I will say, you know, we didn't all necessarily have the same things in common, or even come from, you know, common backgrounds, but we just, we had a common goal. And I think that was that's what sort of, you know, pushed us all kind of as a collective to get to the finish line and keep doing well. So,
Venkat Raman 24:43
that's, that's great. And I'm guessing they were all very collaborative and supportive. Yeah, that's right. That's important.
Venkat Raman 24:54
So, how do you think the teaching was? How were the professors? Teaching?
Yeah. Oh, yeah, I mean, great professors, obviously, um, you know, I, I was an English major, but I did take, you know, some courses outside my major and I was lucky enough to, to get into Julian Bond’s, class history of the civil rights movement and you know, just again, it's one of those things that you, you know, is a big deal at the time. When you think about it later, like, Oh, my gosh, I was too young to actually realize how amazing that experience was and how valuable that was. So again, there were opportunities to just learn and hear from great scholars across the board.
And as for the English major, you know, like I mentioned before, once you start getting into the electives, that's when things really start getting interesting. So I've always been a huge theatre buff, I love theater, I love Broadway, I love live shows, and, and I stumbled upon a series of courses that were basically theater literature, right.
So we were reading plays, and dissecting those and, and they were just remember, the professor name was Professor Lofgren and just some of the best discussions I've ever had, yeah, I mean, anywhere, let alone at college, and I'm just really just dissecting plays that I had read before that I'd seen live and just hadn't, you know, aspects and themes and, you know, things I just never considered. came about and some of those discussions, and they were just so so great. Um, so, yeah, I mean, just just a really rich experience there. So, yeah.
Venkat Raman 27:14
Great. Let's talk a little bit about how was it outside the classroom. We talked a little bit about the drums and, you know, cultural social stuff on campus. And we can talk about the things you were involved in, but maybe we can start with the general sort of backdrop.
Yeah, and of course, one of the things you know, at UVA, it's, it's grounds, you know, it's Yes, it's not campus, it's good. Um, so, yeah, I mean, again, just being on grounds very, just a lot of rich history there. You can feel it, right, you can feel it walking around.
You know, I, continued with the tennis, you know, I got onto the club tennis team, which was great. And so it was kind of the good thing about it was it was we were competitive. We, you know, we played matches against other schools, and, you know, like Virginia Tech, and William and Mary and University of Richmond. And we were competitive, but we weren't, but the primary focus was to have fun. And so it was, you know, you could still be competitive, but still really enjoy yourself. I think that's the one thing with, you know, NCAA athletics is that it's so intense, right. And so that was kind of the cool thing about playing club tennis.
I was a part of the Black Student Alliance there, too, you know, just staying a part of the conversation keeping UVA on its toes, right. You know, what else? You know, just lots of there lots of places to kind of just bond on grounds, like, you know, in the cafeteria, new GM, right? Where we kind of, we knew when most of us didn't have class, and we would all kind of go to lunch at the same time, right. And that's fine those times to get together and talk and catch up. I mean, even even in the library, we had Clemens library was 24 hours. So you'd often run into some of your people there. And, you know, catch up and, oh, shoot, we're supposed to be studying. We're supposed to be writing that paper, but it's much more fun to hang out up here.
So yeah, it was just a lot of options. at UVA, you know, I wasn't I wasn't involved in Greek life, but I didn't need to be. I didn't feel like I had to do that. I think a lot of people, especially at a big university, feel like it's something that they really want to do. I didn't I didn't feel that way. And actually, none of not too many of my friends did too. So we just kind of, we made our own fun. We made our own socialize. And it was it was it was good.
Venkat Raman 30:31
How did you spend your summers? What, What did you do the various summers in college?
Yeah, yeah. So I, I mentioned earlier one summer, I did take a couple courses in the University of Maryland, just to Yeah, rack up a couple credits. I did, I had a couple summer jobs.
So I one summer I worked at BlockBuster. a relic of the past, which was, you know, it was fun at you know, just to make some extra pocket money and get free videos and DVDs and things like that.
Um, one year, I worked at Starbucks. So I worked at Starbucks, and I'm in a Barnes and Noble, although I was not there long enough to become a true barista, right. But, uh, but it was, it was fun, you know, and I got, I got a couple perks there.
And then, you know, for my final summer, before I graduated, I interned at a, at a consulting firm. Again, just to kind of dip my toes in, like, what do I want to do after college? What do I, where do I want to go, let me just see what's out there, see what kind of work I might be interested in. And so I interned at a consulting firm.
So yeah, and just, um, you know, nothing too crazy. But, um, and then, of course, like visiting friends, right, just kind of staying in touch with people. And the thing about UVA is a lot, obviously, a lot of students are from Virginia, right. So. So a lot of my friends were pretty local. But I, you know, I had a couple friends in Philly, a couple friends in New York. So it was nice to, you know, not have to travel to Florida, to hang out with your friends, but also get a little, you know, new, fresh scenery in there over the summer. So.
Venkat Raman 32:30
You need to get recharged.
Venkat Raman 32:36
Now, I want to ask you about your major, I mean, English, I know you, you kind of probably grew up with that level of passion. So talk a little bit about that, picking that as a major. And, you know, also your thinking around this time about what you wanted to do next, you know, from young summers and English majors. So where, where do you think you were going?
So maybe first about English, majoring in English Language and Literature?
Yeah, you know, I think at the time, I didn't want to, obviously, you know, loved reading love writing since the beginning of time, of course. But, um, you know, I thinking about a major, I think I approached it from a standpoint of not wanting to box myself in too much, you know, to a particular field, because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do I but I knew that, you know, with any job that I took, or any sort of career path that I pursued, you know, everybody wants a good communicator, everybody wants a good writer. Everybody wants somebody that's gonna think critically.
Yeah, and yeah, and so that's kind of why I stuck with that. And then again, right, like, just being able to, you know, spend your days reading. Yeah, you know, was was pretty cool. But, but I think, thinking ahead, you know, I really did want to kind of give myself a little flexibility once I got out of college and and to be able to put something on my resume, at least this was the thinking right, to put something on my resume that seemed, you know, broad enough, that it would help me get a job, you know. And so that's what I, that was kind of my thinking there. And I, I mean, I loved being in the English major was, it was great. So
Venkat Raman 34:36
What were you thinking about what you wanted to do? What was your frame of mind around a career or a job at that time?
Yeah, you know, it's, it's funny, and sometimes I still think this, that was just so interesting. I really enjoyed the concept of journalism, I thought, at some point, maybe I want it to be Reporter I love sports. So I was thinking, Oh, yes, sports report, I'll go work for ESPN or something like that. And, you know, just wanting to make sure that I have the strong communication skills behind me. And, you know, so I was thinking kind of journalism. And then I also, when I was in high school, I, I did some internships on the Hill.
So I in turn, I was a summer intern before college for Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. I was also a page for summer, when, when the page program existed, yes. You know, and so I thought, maybe politics, maybe, you know, maybe working as a, you know, in communications for a member of Congress. Right. But then, you know, politics. So I went, you know, I decided that wasn't quite it. So I, I was glad that I kind of stuck with, you know, the more so called general English degree that they would keep, keep some options open. And I ended up in fundraising for a while, you know, doing initially grants, then I did some fundraising for a nonprofit, and then I ended up at the Smithsonian actually doing fundraising there. And, and ultimately, communications for common app. So.
Venkat Raman 36:45
So it worked out well.
It worked out.
Venkat Raman 36:52
So how do you think UVA has impacted what you've done after college?
Yeah, I mean, I'll say it again, I think for one thing, you know, just learning how to be a good communicator, right, just continue, you know, strengthening those those muscles, of course, but I think one of the things that was great, I think about both UVA, and Fairfield having those very different experiences, kind of helped to strengthen that muscle of flexibility, right? Kind of being able to adapt, and, you know, they say the only constant is change, right? So yeah, I'm just I think, being forced to adapt quickly, in those years after high school, I think is a good muscle to have, right?
Change is gonna come, you know, and being able to move and shift I think, is just so critical. Not everybody likes change, not even likes change, but can handle change, right. And I think, you know, having that transition, from high school to Fairfield, Fairfield to UVA, really kind of strengthen that muscle in those muscles.
And, you know, I would say, just in terms of networking, right, the UVA network is so strong. And I think especially the Black Student network, you know, we have we've found ways and thankful out, of course, through technology and social media, of course, to stay in touch with each other to continue to help each other, you know, both personally and professionally. You know, is just so valuable.
And I, I realized that, that's not going anywhere. And and whether you foster it or not, it's it's there. And so that's always, that's always like, and again, you know, I mentioned this earlier, just to continue to see my own classmates, who were just who were ambitious then, and focus, you know, they're ambitious and focus now, and just continuing to see that right. Just, I think, helps to push us all to keep doing better, right to keep working hard and, and knowing that we're all very capable and very, you know, and have a lot to contribute.
Venkat Raman 39:47
So, no, acts as a great motivator.
Absolutely. Exactly. Yep.
If you were able to relive those four years, what would you do differently?
Yeah, um, I would say that one thing I didn't do is study abroad. And, you know, it was one of those things where, because I transferred, like I wanted as much time at UVA as possible. And so I, at the time, I kind of felt like, I don't, I don't really want to miss, like, I'm hitting my stride here. I don't want to miss, you know, I can travel another time. So let me just call it for for a while.
But I do think, you know, I did have a couple friends that studied abroad a couple, you know, one went to London for a semester. There was another one who went to Spain. And so you know, I, there is something so great about that study abroad experience, right? Of course, yeah.
And, and so, you know, to really live in another country to learn in another country to learn and another culture, I think, is just a really enriching experience. So, I wonder if I would reconsider that even having transferred, right, even, you know, only being on UVA is grounds for three years, like maybe I could have squeezed in a semester and, you know, this semester in Spain or Italy or something, you know, just to just to have that.
And then I, you know, the other thing I would say, I, I think I would have tried out for varsity tennis just to see it just say that I did it, right. I think there was, you know, and that's something you kind of learn as an adult, right is, you know, the worst they can say is no, right, you know, you can put yourself out there and the worst you can, the worst I can say is now and I think at the time is, you know, 2021 year old, you're afraid Oh, well, what if they? What if I don't make it? Well, it's a possibility. It's a strong possibility.
And so, you know, just, I think having the courage to kind of put yourself out there a little more. That is something I probably would have just done to say, like, well, I tried it, it didn't work out, or, yeah, it did work out. Now. I'm on the varsity tennis team. Just to, you know, not be afraid of those things and not be afraid of no, and just trying something to see what, what happens. Think I would have done that.
Venkat Raman 42:50
Okay, so now, taking all this experience you've had at college and beyond, what would you tell today's high school students as they get ready to apply? Ones that want to apply to UVA, What would you tell them?
Yeah, I mean, I would say, you know, especially as a, as a transfer student, um, you know, your first college decision doesn't have to be your last one. You know, that there are there are so many paths, right? Whether it's, you know, whether you transfer in your second year, whether you, you know, start at community college, whether you work for a year, whether you take a break, travel, you know, join the military, anything like that, that, you know, the beginning isn't how it's going to end up, right, and that you really do have that agency, and then it's an opportunity to really grow and learn about yourself as time goes on, and that, you know, you can say like, well, I don't know that this is the right decision for me, I don't think I thought it was and that's okay. I thought it was initially but now I realized that I need something else.
And to just be comfortable with that and not afraid of it. Or or think that this was a mistake or you know, any of the stigmas behind transfer. You know that that, do it for yourself, right? Make your own, you know, the decisions that are right for you for your family. And just taking all that into consideration and not really kind of listening to the outside noise and listening to your gut and being flexible and willing to adapt.
And, you know, then I would say for students applying to UVA, I would say you know, especially, especially black students, you know, reaching out to be alumni network, you know, the black alumni network especially wants to make sure that the black students feel supported.
You know, especially in the last few years, you know, UVA and Charlottesville have unfortunately seen, seen some things, seen some, some incidents. And, you know, we want to make sure that black students especially don't feel alone. And we are here, and so I would say, you know, to any, to any black student, considering UVA, you know, definitely take advantage of the alumni network, we are not going anywhere. And we're here to support and here to, you know, listen to the vents and the ideas and challenges and all of that. So, and that's really, for any student, I think, just take advantage of that network. And the third thing I would say is really to learn the history, the history of the institution that you're thinking about, right. And, and when you get to campus or grounds to learn that history, and you know, it's a big, it's a big part of the experience there. And you know, a lot of American universities have complicated histories. And I think it's just important to, you know, you're there to learn your craft. But also kind of learn where you are, and kind of the, the grounds that you're walking on, right, and to understand that history, I think is super important. So,
Venkat Raman 46:52
No, that's, that's, that's great advice. And especially, I like the idea of tapping into the alumni network. I don't think enough people do that. It's true. And so I think that's where your body of knowledge and experience comes in.
Venkat Raman 47:14
Okay, so we are sort of winding down here now. Yeah, coming to the end of our podcast. So I thought this would be a good time for you to talk about something we haven't talked about, or say something more about something, or maybe share some memories or traditions of UVA that you think people should know about.
Yeah, I mean, I would say one of the best memories and perhaps one of the most obvious, but a good one nonetheless, is the lawn, you know, the lawn at UVA is just so there's, there's, there's an energy there. A lot of different energies, as I mentioned, but there's an energy there. And, um, you know, I have a lot of memories of the lawn, you know, whether it's, whether it's snowball fights, right? in the dead of winter, when it's two degrees outside, you know, visiting friends and their lawn rooms and just kind of hanging out and all of that the lighting of the lawn was huge at the holidays, you know, bringing people together and celebrating and, and then of course, graduation right. Um, you know, getting to it is it is the thing that you talk about, right when you are about to get your degree and you know, you just cannot wait to walk across that lawn so and you do it with your friends, you do it with your people. I mean, I have some of my favorite pictures are just of me with my friends, and we're just, you know, gosh, are just so happy. And one of the advantages of being an English major ECA is that the English major ceremony is also on the lawn. So we get the double whammy of, you know, the main ceremony and the the major ceremony on the lawn.
So and then I would say, you know, again to kind of the black alumni presence at UVA, one of the things that's so great is black Alumni Weekend, where we get together every two years, on grounds and as I mentioned this year, it was postponed due to COVID. But it's just it's a great opportunity to just kind of, it's like a huge homecoming. You know, it's in the spring it's you, you know you make plans with your friends. Friends, and it's kind of the thing that we look forward to every two years. So we were bummed out that expected of course, but I doubt that, that this year, we couldn't make it. So, yeah, just just great traditions at UVA and just, it's a great, it's a great place to go back to right. It really feels like when you go back, it's, it's like going home. And regret, like I said before, I think regrettably, I have not been down in many, many years, just due to life and more recently, the pandemic, but, um, but my goal is to is to get back very, very soon. And visit and just take it all in.
Venkat Raman 50:46
Absolutely, absolutely. So Jennifer, thank you so much for giving me so much time and so much detail about your experience. Yeah. Yeah.
I'm sure. A lot of trip down memory lane. But good. I'm sure the audience will enjoy it. So yeah, sure. I want to talk to you more, but for right now. Take care, be safe. And
And yes, you too. All right. Thank you so much.
Venkat Raman 51:20
Okay, talk to you soon. Bye.
Venkat Raman 51:28
Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Jennifer Davis about the University of Virginia.
Jen realized after getting to Fairfield that she really wanted a bigger school with a diverse student body. She made the change and moved to UVA.
At UVA, she was able to pursue her love for English, play Club Tennis and was part of the black student alliance.
I hope you check out the University of Virginia for your own undergraduate study.
For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.
Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].
Till we meet again, take care and be safe.
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