Jewel Davis planned to be a teacher. After four years as a Teaching Fellow at UNC Chapel Hill to earn a Bachelor’s in English and another (accelerated) year to earn a Master’s in Teaching from Chapel Hill, she set out to teach high school English in Havelock, N.C., as part of a legacy of teachers.
“All of my family are teachers, so that was kind of in my blood, and just seeing how my parents interacted with students really gave me the idea of being a teacher,” Davis says. Even her older sister, Star, was a teacher as well. Her mother was a high school English teacher who eventually went into counseling to become a guidance counselor. Her father, a middle school P.E. teacher, was also a coach of any and all sports at the middle school and high school in their hometown of Kinston, N.C.
However, after two years of following the family legacy, Davis could see that teaching high school wasn’t quite the right fit. “I loved interacting with the students and developing plans for them that were exciting and relevant,” Davis says, but she found that she wanted to work in a different type of setting. Around the same time, Davis learned about librarianship from a friend who is a public librarian in New York. “She was just explaining to me one day her job and I was like what? Wait a minute, Librarianship? Why have I never thought of this?” Davis says. “I realized I could use all of my teaching background and move it into this career.”
While looking around at different options, Davis found the ACE Scholars program at UNCG. The advantages of the program helped her decide to come to UNCG. “I value having a cohort, a community of peers who are going through the same thing… and I feel like I need that kind of support to be successful,” Davis says. “With the ACE Scholars, they push me to do things because they’re all doing so many other things.”
So far at UNCG, Davis has been far from average. Currently she is in her second semester as a Reference intern at Jackson Library, and in the spring semester she also worked as an Instruction intern at Guilford College. She just started working in Digital Projects at Jackson Library, where she will be working on the new grant-funded project “Textiles, Teachers, and Troops,” about the history of Greensboro. Davis is also taking Digital Libraries with Dr. Nora Bird, in which she hopes to create a digital collection of her family’s oral history.
“They have amazing stories [and] very different experiences from me,” Davis says. “My mom would tell me about her community— they all farmed, and they ate from what they made,” she says. “It’s this community of people who came together and shared— It’s so unlike anything I’ve experienced.” “They’re these people that I’ve known all my life but I don’t know what their lives were really like,” Davis says. “And my dad, oh my gosh, he can tell a tale— He’s a good talker.”
In addition to her interests in teaching and digital libraries, Davis wants to learn more about distance education and online learning. “I want to move toward a less traditional approach, like maybe working with distance education or working with technology… I really like the digital side of librarianship, I think that’s where libraries are going,” she says.
“People need to start changing bit by bit,” Davis says. “The value in reaching so many more people at once outweighs being in a classroom with a person in front of you. We have to start thinking about how we can make connections with people who aren’t right outside our door.”
Davis has found her experiences in the LIS program helpful for learning about this new digital world. “I’m a doer, in the sense that I appreciate theory and I understand the importance, but I like to practice and I like to dabble in things,” she says. Davis enjoys the technical classes including Cataloging, Media Production, Web Production, and Database Design.
Davis has also found the support and community-building of the LIS department to be essential to her success. “I like the professors, I like that they care and they know you,” she says. “That’s really important to me because in other educational experiences I was just someone who’s in the class, and I wasn’t particularly known in some areas. Here you can make connections and build relationships with your teachers if you want to, and that’s great.”
In addition to her classes and internships, Davis has many hobbies to keep her busy. She played sports growing up, including softball and swimming, and she has been a dancer her whole life. She even went to Governor’s School for dance, and this summer she was a dancer in the Rivertowne Players’ production of Cabaret in New Bern, N.C.
She also likes to create things for the Web. “I blog a lot; through that, I like to design and make pretty things and work with fonts and stuff… It’s so geeky!” Davis says. Also, she recently designed a t-shirt for LISSA, the LIS Student Association at UNCG, for which she is the Vice-President.
She’s also crafty— Last year she taught herself to sew, and she enjoys working on small sewing projects. “I want to make my own Etsy shop, I’m just so busy!” she says.
Busy is an understatement. However, with all her responsibilities and interests, Davis manages to stay focused. “I stay motivated because I know there’s an end goal, and that end goal is a job,” she says. “I know that at the end I have to show that I worked my hardest in grad school to even be considered.”
We wish her the best of luck in her second year and in her upcoming job search.