Scholar and educator Dr. Andrea Davis was born in Detroit, Michigan. She was an academically gifted child with an unyielding thirst for knowledge. The path to PhD, however, was not one without challenges. Despite her exceptional academic achievement, experiences with racism and classism during K-12 lead to a rocky start to her post-secondary pursuits.
In her upper-middle class high school, she encountered guidance counselors who either ignored her in favor of the wealthy or white students or were either unwilling or unable to consider her specific concerns as a black student as important factors in how they advised her during her college search. Their lack of cultural competence produced poor advice and made the hard decision of selecting the institution that best fit her all the more difficult. Left to navigate unchartered territory without the appropriate guidance, Dr. Davis made a number of costly and time-consuming missteps at the outset of her college career in spite of graduating from high school with honors. She began her studies co-enrolled at a local community college and a for-profit institution. She left those two schools to enroll at a different for-profit institution before finally realizing that a historically black university (HBCU) that was steeped in civil rights history was where she wanted to be. Had her parents been able to afford the services of a private educational consultant who could assist where her guidance counselors fell short her process may have been less arduous.
Rather than let her obstacles derail her academic pursuits, Dr. Davis used them to fuel her passion for education. She went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree (summa cum laude) from Alabama State University (ASU) and a master’s and PhD from the University of Florida (UF)—a top 12 program in her field of criminology—all on full academic scholarships. In addition to the scholarship, Dr. Davis received many honors and awards throughout college and graduate school, including the President’s Award (ASU), Graduate Student Achievement Award (UF), Diversity Enhancement Award (UF) and was selected for two prestigious fellowships with the National Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Statistical Institute at the University of North Carolina.
Dr. Davis began working as an Undergraduate Advisor and tutor at the University of Florida in 2010. While in these positions, she encountered three recurring scenarios that would change the direction of her career. First, she saw that many students of color had made a largely uninformed decision to attend the university and had not been well advised as to the variety of other options available to them. Second, many students of color expressed to her that they were excited to have an advisor of color because they could relate to her in a distinct way. Finally, feelings of marginalization and exclusion within the university setting—as well as one size fits all approaches to teaching, research, and advising—can negatively affect even the brightest student’s likelihood of graduating. Dr. Davis saw herself in these students, and she realized that her calling was to support students of color as they navigated higher education. After seeing the accomplishments of her many undergraduate and graduate advisees—many she’d counseled while still at UF and others in a pro-bono capacity following her departure—Dr. Davis founded Scholarly Pursuits as a dedicated way to bring her passion and skills to the masses. Dr. Davis has helped hundreds of students get into school, find money for school, graduate, and get jobs.
Currently, Dr. Davis lives in metro-Washington, DC, and splits her time between working as a criminologist and running Scholarly Pursuits. Outside of her day job, when she is not conducting college visits to stay on top of the latest university developments, mentoring students, or enjoying the occasional day off, she is volunteering with a local social justice organization or enjoying time with her family and friends.