25,400, or so, individuals from all over the world are currently undergraduate students at Georgia State University. Rachel Davis is one of them. But to think of Rachel as 1-in-25,400 is to underestimate the Class of 2021 Presidential Scholar, though being identified as a “statistic” is unlikely to bother her. Rachel understands statistics. She’s passionate about them. Rachel plans to study biostatistics and is, in fact, looking forward to being one among many, to taking advantage of the wide range of new experiences the campus and community have to offer.
6,879 people called Tyrone, GA home in the 2010 U.S. Census. Rachel, her three younger siblings, and her parents were five among that number. Continuous learning, hard work, and good grades were emphasized in the Davis household. The Davis kids’ regular trips to the library stoked Rachel’s curiosity and instilled a love of learning. While she devoured mystery novels and non-fiction books alike, Rachel discovered her passion in an AP statistics class during her sophomore year at Fayette County’s Sandy Creek High School. She had always enjoyed math, but the utility and pervasiveness of statistics sparked Rachel’s interest; she saw how they applied to any subject or field. And though math classes were her favorite, Rachel attacked all her classes with zeal, fueled with not only a desire to do her best, but also a deep competitive streak.
3,000, or so, top high school juniors and seniors from around the state of Georgia applied in hopes of being selected to attend the 2016 Governor’s Honors Program (GHP). Rachel Davis was one of them.
650 gifted and talented students, including Rachel Davis, spent four weeks at Valdosta State University in the summer of 2016. The GHP students received college-level instruction on advanced subjects of their choosing; Rachel, naturally, decided to major in a math. That summer, Rachel was in her element: taking classes on math that was beyond what she was learning at Sandy Creek High and living among peers from all different background who shared her thirst for knowledge. Rachel not only enjoyed a rewarding academic experience, she made friendships that continued after the GHP. And, in two cases, followed her to Georgia State.
10 incoming freshmen are chosen each year for Georgia State’s top scholarship, the Presidential Scholarship. Rachel Davis was one of those selected in 2017 (as were two of her friends from the previous summer’s Governor’s Honors Program). Rachel was sold on Georgia State and the Honors College at the Presidential Scholarship interviews sessions.
“Being from a small town, the urban environment and diverse student body were attractive draws for me,” said Rachel. “The best way to learn is from meeting people with different experiences from mine. And Georgia State richly offers that.”
While she wanted what Georgia State was offering, including the chance to do research as an undergraduate through the university assistantship program, Rachel had to wait to see if the school wanted her as Presidential Scholar. But Rachel didn’t worry about the competition. She thrives on it.
9 student athletes take the field at a time for the Sandy Creek High School Patriots’ softball team. Rachel Davis was one of them. Softball offered her the camaraderie of being on a team, the stress relief of the physical exertion, and thrill of athletic competition. The most rewarding gift it provided, though, was somewhat unexpected. As a senior, Rachel was selected as a team captain and found the most meaningful aspect the experience was seeing the team improve over the course of the year. Rachel’s competitiveness on the field came as no surprise to her. Her nurturing and desire to help others grow and improve shouldn’t have either.
5 years, approximately, separate the four Davis siblings. Rachel, 18, is the oldest. Chelsea, 13, is the youngest. Jillian and Jared—16 and 14, respectively—are in between. While the Davis kids competed against each other in everything from sports to board games to getting attention, it fell on Rachel, as the oldest, to act as the family tutor, helping each sibling, at times, with their schoolwork. She enjoyed helping them learn new things and master concepts that were previously difficult. In turn, she learned how much she enjoyed helping others.
1-on-1 math tutoring, of her fellow Sandy Creek High School students and 4th and 5th graders at North Fayette Elementary school, further solidified Rachel’s understanding how important making a difference was to her. This desire found what Rachel feels is the perfect conduit in biostatistics. Her passion for statistics will be channeled into making life better for others.
Statistics are useful, if imperfect, tools for predicting the future. Rachel Davis’ track record and innate competitiveness and desire to make a difference suggest that the odds are in her favor.