Get involved, give back


Enjoy every opportunity NDSU offers, and then generously give back. 

That’s the wise advice to students by Deborah Davis, the 2019 Distinguished Alumna of the College of Human Development and Education.

Davis is the assistant regional director of the Northeast Human Service Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota. She earned her master’s degree in education from NDSU in 1984.

“I am humbled and greatly honored with this recognition, and proud to be associated with NDSU. There are so many people I respect who have received this honor and who inspired me that I still am in wonderment that I was named this year,” said Davis, who was recognized during an April 10 visit to NDSU.

Davis is recognized across the state as a leader in her field. She has been active in the Juvenile Drug Court since it began in 2000, and she is a member of the Substance Abuse Prevention Committee, Community/Campus Coalition for Reducing High Risk Drinking and a group addressing opioid issues in the community and region. She also recently became involved with the Grand Forks’ schools Call to Action on Mental Health.

“My message to current students is to get involved in your program of study, be involved with college activities, be courageous and take risks,” she said, noting her NDSU studies focused on counseling and guidance. “They should know they are getting not only a great academic education at NDSU, but a great life and relationships education as well. And they should remember that they can give back in ways beyond financial contributions after they graduate. The college will continue to thrive because these students have so much leadership potential to share.”

Davis clearly heeds her own guidance. She has served on the college’s Board of Visitors since 2013. It’s through that commitment that Davis came to realize what her NDSU experience means to her.

“I began to understand and appreciate the totality of my educational experience at NDSU and the foundation from which my career and sense of professional identity was built and influenced,” she said. “I gained insight into all that I experienced at NDSU and how well prepared I was for real life and a career in 1984. This insight led to a sense of humility and strong desire to give back in whatever way I could to help motivate and support students, faculty and staff.”

As a member of the Board of Visitors’ scholarship committee, Davis saw one more way she could help. “I really began soul searching on how I can give back, as I am such a strong believer in higher education and reducing barriers for students,” she said. “I established a graduate student scholarship that will be awarded for the first time this fall. I am excited to do this, and my message is: You don’t have to be rich or donate millions to make a difference.”

Davis has two daughters. Annie, 25, graduated from NDSU in December 2017 with her bachelor’s degree in zoology. Maggie, 23, is a junior at the University of North Dakota.



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