Jemilia Davis ’19PHD: A Letter to the NC State College of Education


Dear College of Education, I remember it like it was yesterday. When the stars collided and I recognized that
it was the perfectly imperfect time to start this process. I had always dreamed of earning my PhD, but
never knew how or when. It was almost a serendipitous moment. I had just completed a six-day leadership
retreat where I helped facilitate young brilliant minds in discovering their ability to change
the world. I learned alongside my group that week. I recognized that I too was discovering
my own ability to create the change I wanted to see in the world. It wasn’t happenstance that a colleague
and dear friend happened to share a little about her experience at NC State–the unwavering
support she got from her advisor, the nurturing space created in and outside the classroom for her to learn hard truths, and the room for her to develop into her own. Her experience resonated with me as did the mountain that I would have to climb to turn this dream into reality. Embarking on this experience meant it would
take me away from my family as I drove 2 hours 1-2 times a week for my first year. It meant that I would leave a full-time job
and salary. It meant that every moment had to be strategically
planned to make this dream a reality. However, as with each fateful step, the mountain
became smaller the more I learned about you and what you truly stood for. I chose you, NC State’s College of Education,
because of the married notion of scholar and practitioner. I chose you because you honored my time and
practice in the field across education. I chose you because you invited me to develop
my identity as a scholar, in my own time, in my own way. I chose you because of your focus on changing
the world from within—inspiring us, your students, to be change makers that would send
ripple effects into our larger society. I chose you because of the faculty members
I sat across from in my interview assured me that I could bring my full self to the
program. You recognized the intersection of my identities
and experiences as a strength and not an obstacle or a deficit. Today, I can say nothing but thank you for
being who they said you were, who I thought you were, and helping me become the scholar
practitioner you always thought I could be. My success is a reflection of the trust and
belief you had in me that I could turn a dream into reality and that I could inspire others
to do the same. I’m grateful for choosing you and honored
that you chose me.

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