• Four people and the words, Extension Matters.

Agent of Change

A blonde young woman wearing a blue lab coat and safety glasses holds a glass dropper up to the camera.
Emily Davis devotes her life to helping other children overcome trauma.

Survivor uses knowledge to improve lives

Story by Leah Barbour

As a young child, Emily Davis was the victim of a horrific crime, but, with the support of her family and the pediatrician who documented the evidence, Davis became a survivor.

Following the adversity, Davis had many of the same questions other survivors experience: Am I a victim or a victor? Is my life over, or is it just beginning?

“When I was a high school junior 3 years ago, I was really conflicted on the direction I should take in my life,” she remembers. “I wanted to utilize my personal experiences and passions to impact others, but I was unsure how I could do so. I talked with my mom, and she reminded me of Jeremiah 29:11: ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

“I prayed that God would unveil his plan for my life. At school the next day, the vice-principal announced that the Rural Medical and Science Scholars program, for juniors interested in pursuing medicine, was accepting applications. Instantly, I knew God had revealed the first step in his plan for me,” Davis explains.

Rural Medical and Science Scholars, delivered by the Mississippi State

University Extension Service, is a 4-week summer program for rising high school seniors who take two college-level premed courses, shadow physicians, and interact with medical students and faculty.

Davis, who had already considered devoting her life to helping other children overcome trauma, was interested. She says participating in the Rural Medical and Science Scholars program matured and solidified her desire to become a doctor and help others.

“The program was built to nurture scholars,” Davis emphasizes. “Throughout the program, we received great wisdom and insight from all our mentors. Rural Medical and Science Scholars empowered me to realize that I can leave a lasting impact on a rural community.”

One of the requirements for program participation comes after the 4-week intensive summer program: during their senior year, the scholars must participate in the Junior Master Wellness Volunteers program, too.

“Rural Medical and Science Scholars empowered me to realize that I can leave a lasting impact on a rural community.”

At first, Davis did not realize how much volunteering within the Junior Master Wellness Volunteers program would mean to her, but she soon realized that the program was preparing her for her future career.

She taught young children about various health topics, including dental hygiene, and Davis experienced the joy of sharing health information with children. However, she didn’t stop there. Next, Davis organized a project to benefit the Palmer Home for Children.

“With my grandmother’s generous help and sewing abilities, I began my mission of collecting hand-sewn dresses,” she says. “We began with 10 dresses initially, but I wanted to do more. I reached out to my aunt, and she graciously donated hand-sewn dresses that she and members of her church had made. My grandmother also shared my mission on her sewing blog, and I was able to collect dresses from all over the country.

“Ultimately, I was able to deliver over 100 dresses to the children at the Palmer Home, and I experienced overwhelming joy in seeing the difference we had made for those children,” Davis emphasizes.

Now a junior chemistry major at MSU, Davis plans to go to medical school and, one day, become a pediatrician who helps other children identify and overcome trauma. Participating in Rural Medical and Science Scholars and becoming a Junior Master Wellness Volunteer showed Davis firsthand, she says, how service positively impacts communities and individuals.

“The experience ignited an engine of servitude in me,” Davis explains. “Rural Medical and Science Scholars helped solidify my interest in medicine, and that, with the Junior Master Wellness program, empowered me to pursue my passions. My experiences provided me with the knowledge and the confidence to know that I am capable of leaving a lasting impact on the world around me.”

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