Student Government Association Vice President Terrell Davis remembers feeling a sense of culture shock when he first arrived at GC four years ago.
“It was a challenge my first two or three weeks here,” Davis said. “For this to be an institution within a community that is more balanced when it comes to racial and ethnic backgrounds, it was really different because I knew Milledgeville, but I didn’t know GC.”
Davis knew attending GC would be different from how he grew up, having attended a predominately African-American high school in his hometown of Sparta, Georgia.
“I chose GC because I wanted to experience something that wasn’t in my comfort zone,” Davis said. “I wanted an environment to engage with people who had different perspectives and see how they all engaged with my worldview.”
Despite enjoying the challenge early on, Davis soon realized the true lack of diversity on campus and decided to become a part of the solution. He knew this required stepping outside of his comfort zone and getting involved on campus.
Though some hesitate to take this step, Davis embraced it. It was something he had looked forward to when he decided to attend GC.
Senior Davis, a mass communication major, credits several organizations and individuals for helping and encouraging him to get out of his comfort zone and tackle GC’s diversity issue head-on. Among the most influential for him was his mentor Emmanuel Little.
Little, GC’s director of the Call Me MISTER Program and minority retention, noticed something different about Davis from the beginning.
“When I first met Terrell, I was impressed by his professionalism and his composure,” Little said. “Even as a high school student, he moved with a sense of purpose.”
Although Davis didn’t become involved in GC’s Student Government Association until his sophomore year, he had known he wanted to be involved in government since he watched Barack Obama become president in 2008.
“When he became president, I felt like that was a major turn for my life,” Davis said. “I wouldn’t say that I saw myself being a president then, but I saw myself being able to defy odds and make something happen.”
As Davis and his aunt watched Obama running for president, his aunt said it would be a blessing to see him become president before she died. About three weeks after Obama was elected, his aunt passed on Thanksgiving Day.
“I think all of that very drastic stuff happening made me feel like I’ve got to make both her and Barack Obama proud,” Davis said.
Davis was appointed to SGA as a senator twice, first in 2014 and then again in the spring of 2015. He ran the following semester, serving as president pro tempore that school year. In fall of 2016, he ran for vice president and was elected alongside President Laura Ahrens.
“I met Terrell freshman year when we both served on SGA, and we’ve gotten closer this year with him serving as vice president,” Ahrens said. “He’s very passionate about diversity and always offers a unique and rational perspective in all of conversations.”
Davis said he has been proud to work on SGA’s diversity initiative, as well as be involved with GC’s Black Student Alliance, GEM program, the cultural center and Male Connection, along with many other organizations on campus.
He said that even just during his tenure at GC, he has seen an increase in diversity within the student body.
“We’ve made a lot of progress, but we still have a long way to go,” Davis said. “But it’s a good time for us because we’re on that edge, and we’ve just got to keep climbing.”
Davis said he hopes to one day combine his major focus in strategic communication with his interest in government by acting as a press secretary for a state or federal government office.
“Communication and writing is a very difficult thing when you have so many people involved in that, because you’re telling a story and you have to make sure that it’s clear and concrete,” Davis said. “If I can create channels of communication that are transparent and effective, that’s my dream.”