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    Davis follows dreams to doctorate, spot at LSCPA

    12-15-17-MDAVIS.jpg

    Teaching was always a dream for Dr. Michelle Davis but it was one she never thought would come true.

    “I was painfully shy,” she said.

    Not anymore.

    Davis conquered her fear of public speaking more than a decade ago and became a teacher. Then she went into school administration.

    She moved to Lamar State College Port Arthur as the new Chair for General Education and Developmental Studies for the Fall 2017 semester.

    And LSCPA quickly became her new home.

    “My favorite thing about my first semester was the faculty. I was just impressed with the faculty and their attitude and their commitment to their students,” Davis said.

    The new department chair is working with almost four dozen full-time and adjunct faculty members to streamline the merger of three departments: Liberal Arts, Mathematics and Science, and Developmental Education.

    “There are a lot of good faculty here, really good teachers,” Davis said. “You have an art teacher who creates art, drama teachers who are in the productions.

    “They don’t just teach. They are practitioners of what they preach. I’ve been very impressed with them.

    “And everyone has been very helpful – faculty and staff, both – in welcoming me.”

    A native of Kentucky who earned her first two college degrees there, Davis moved to Texas in 2008, after Lamar University in Beaumont offered her first full-time teaching job.

    “Life just takes you places you don’t realize you’re going,” she said.

    From 2013-2017, Davis was Department Chair for General Education and Developmental Studies at Lamar Institute of Technology in Beaumont.

    She brings a just-completed Doctor of Education degree from the University of Houston into the New Year.

    The chaos, uncertainty and delays caused by Tropical Storm Harvey impacted her first semester on campus.

    “It made settling in a little more difficult,” Davis said. “Call it interesting; I wouldn’t say rough.

    “But I have at least four faculty members who have lost their homes. And it’s not just them, but students, that have lost their homes and stability.

    “I’m impressed with their resilience. Harvey was a natural disaster of historical proportions.”

    Davis was born in Detroit, Michigan, then moved to Smithland, Kentucky at age 10 and became a staunch University of Kentucky basketball fan.

    “Go Wildcats!” she said. “I’m one of two people in Texas who care about basketball. But I’ve adjusted to football. I’m pretty well versed.”

    With a bachelor’s degree in Family Studies from UK, Davis worked a dozen years for state child welfare and mental health agencies.

    Then she took a course in conflict resolution.

    “It was a lot of leadership, business and communication type of thing,” Davis said. “I guess that program got me from being so extremely shy. By the end of it, I was doing presentations once a week in class.”

    Davis earned a master’s in organizational communication from Murray State in 2004 and began teaching as an adjunct instructor at several community colleges.

    She also worked for the Red Cross, teaching CPR, First Aid and Train the Trainers programs.

    Davis said she spent much of her first months on the LSCPA campus just getting to know the faculty, staff and students.

    “I feel like my job is to first take care of the faculty, who then take care of the students,” Davis said. “I think one of a department chair’s biggest jobs is to act as the voice between the upper administration and faculty, to help get initiatives through.”

    Her to-do list includes preparing short- and long-term goals for the new department, offering campus-wide training workshops for faculty and staff members, and teaching one class per semester.

    Public speaking, of course.

    “It’s the best teaching job you can have,” she said.