Leadership is one of the most important lessons that ECU alumna and Women's Roundtable board member Deborah Davis '79, '83, learned at East Carolina, and she hopes to pass that on to the next generation through her involvement with the Women's Roundtable.
"[ECU] has been true to its mission," Davis said. "[It] produces well rounded individuals who not only appreciate their education, but understand that they have a responsibility to help pave the path for others. And last, but not least it is molding the leaders of the future for our communities."
But Davis did not start out as a Pirate. She began her college career as a computer science major at NC State University. She quickly realized that East Carolina was a much better fit for her.
"My roommate and I had to find a place to live off campus due to a shortage that year of on-campus housing for incoming freshmen," she said. "It did not take me long to decide that making my way across campus at 3 a.m. to gain access to the computer labs was not the life for me. My future husband was already a student at ECU and after checking out the School of Business, I realized that ECU was a much better fit for me personally."
And she flourished. She graduated from ECU's School of Business in 1979 with a B.S. in business administration and earned her master's degree in business administration in 1983. Davis spent 32 years working at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, taking the hospital through a period of unprecedented growth in providing health care across the eastern region of the state. During her tenure, PCMH earned Magnet recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and was recognized by Working Mother magazine as one of the top 100 workplaces in the nation for workingmoms.
That capacity for leadership was evident long before her work at PCMH. As the first person in her family to attend college, Davis was determined to get an education. Because of her transfer from NC State to ECU, Davis had to give up her scholarships and financial aid. To pay for her education, Davis worked full time and went to school full time.
"At that time, I did not have many options and could not take out loans to continue my education," she said. "I was able to go to work at Pitt County Memorial Hospital. During the completion of both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I was able to go to school full time and work full time to support myself. Looking back, I was very fortunate with the way things worked out, but I have often indicated to others that I have mentored that I would not wish for others to have to receive their education in this manner as it was very difficult."
With her involvement in the Women's Roundtable, Davis is helping to ensure that future generations of ECU students can concentrate on getting an education instead of worrying about how they will pay for college. Gifts to the Women's Roundtable support the university's Access Scholarship program, which provides financial support to a historically underserved but greatly deserving group of ECU students who demonstrate both financial need and proven academic potential.
"When we were growing up, there wasn't much opportunity to go to college," Davis said of her and her husband, Randy Davis '84, who both grew up in eastern North Carolina. "ECU gave us both a chance to get a college education, and we've always felt a responsibility to give back."
Now the chief operating officer at MCV Hospitals and Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, Davis appreciates the increased focus on women that the Women's Roundtable brings to ECU, and its focus on developing women to help lead our university into the future.
"The Women's Roundtable is one of the first times that the university has reached out to women alumni," she said. "It is the perfect opportunity to get women leaders involved in the role they can play in the leadership of ECU and the future of the university."