Now the Ph.D. student in higher education and organizational change is regent-designate, slated to become the 27th student regent for the University of California. Her term begins in July 2001, when she will replace fellow UCLA graduate student Justin Fong.
"This will be an exciting time to be a regent in California," Davis said. "With the electronic generation at hand and the changing needs of our state, the next five to 10 years will be a crucial time for the UC system and education in general."
Davis thrives on involvement at all levels. She has kicked up her heels as Josephine Bruin, paddled as a sea-kayaking instructor at UCLA's Marine Aquatic Center, hiked as an outdoor adventure guide and served as undergraduate admissions coordinator of student programs, supervising nearly 200 student employees and volunteers.
Davis grew up in Seal Beach, Calif., and earned her bachelor's degree in anthropology from UCLA in 1995. She received the Chancellor's Service Award at graduation.
Initially seeking a career in television production, Davis worked for CNN in Washington, D.C. and in New York, but switched paths after making a chance presentation to a group of "at risk" students.
That's when she realized educators could shape lives. "With education playing such an important role in the future and livelihood of America's youth, I commit myself to stretching the limits of my potential as an educator and lifelong learner, and enabling students to do the same," she noted in her application to become a student regent.
Davis said she is a believer in hands-on learning and is looking forward to the chances she will have to expand her knowledge about higher education and to help fellow students.
"I have a real passion for public education," she said. "I want to make sure people see challenges at the University of California as opportunities, not barriers."
Among the issues Davis sees facing the regents in the next few years is Tidal Wave II, the anticipated increase of thousands of students attending UC schools. The regents will have to decide how the university will maintain excellence with the larger student population and where the additional students will live, eat and go to class, she said.
"I look at it as an opportunity," Davis said. "Look at how many more people we can educate."