Vernon “Gene” Davis III
Vernon “Gene” Davis III started his Washington College career as a full-time employee after finishing his service with the Army. A patrol officer with Public Safety for seven years now, he hadn’t really thought about pursuing a college degree until his boss, Director of Public Safety Jerry Roderick, and his wife encouraged him to consider it. After making the decision to matriculate, he met Associate Professor of Sociology Ryan Kelty, who has been his mentor through the entire process.
“They saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” Davis says. “Now I’m aware of it. I didn’t realize I could be a good student, and that means a lot to me.”
Davis, who grew up in the area, joined the Army, First Cavalry Division, after 9/11. He already had his truck driving certification, since before he joined up he drove the Kent County recycling truck. So he signed up with that skill, and before long found himself in Baghdad.
“My main mission was convoy security between southern Baghdad and the international airport. So some days I was on top of the truck as a gunner, sometimes I was shotgun, other times I was driving,” he says.
After a year in Iraq he was awarded the U.S. Army Combat Action Badge, and in May 2006 earned his honorable discharge. Two months later he started work on campus. “I took off one uniform and put another one on,” he says. “This is a good place to transition. You’re around good people here, everybody around you inspires you to better yourself.”
Davis is majoring in American Studies, going to school part-time, since he has a full-time job and a family. He’s also a certified self-defense instructor who teaches rape aggression self-defense classes on campus, as well as crime prevention instruction.
Davis has joined Kelty and fellow student-veteran Joe Miloshevsky in developing a veterans’ club on campus. “The group is open to veterans and non-veterans,” he says. “Anybody who wants to support veterans can be part of it as well.”
Davis is also part of the 100 Faces of War Experience, an online exhibit of portraits and words of Americans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can read his own story and see his portrait here.