When Juanita Davis was looking for a university to attend, she was not sure which one to pick. She wanted a college that was not too close to home, but also one that was not too far away. After touring other universities, Davis picked Grand Valley for a reason she had not considered: the brochure.
“Grand Valley was the only school that looked like its brochure,” Davis said. “It felt like they were not just trying to sell me something, that they actually believed in their university.”
Davis was named assistant director at the Office of Multicultural Affairs in early January. She had spent the last six years working at the CLAS Advising Center as an Academic Advisor. Prior to being an advisor, she worked as the coordinator of the Oliver Wilson Freshman Academy.
In her new role, Davis still works on providing the best support she can for students. Coming from Chicago, Davis said she experienced culture shock in Allendale. She wants to give students the same kind of opportunities and care she received.
“We have grown, and I’m very proud of where we are as an institution and the support we continue providing for students,” Davis said.
For Davis, collaboration is the backbone of student success. Creating new partnerships can help foster student success. Working with student ambassadors, partnering with other organizations and making students aware of support only leads to better students, she said.
“We don’t want anyone to fall through the cracks,” Davis said. “No one after their first semester should be saying, ‘I didn’t feel connected, I didn’t find support,'” she said.
Davis said marginalized and underrepresented populations need to be more aware of the support that is available. Students should also help each other, and recommend tools and resources that were helpful for them, she said.
“As we’ve learned in the last couple of years, equity and inclusion is important to the nation and in the world,” Davis said. “If we provide equitable support, college can be a prime opportunity to change the narrative, and, in turn, to change the world.”