BY TAYLOR MABELITINI
Davon Shackleford, it’s safe to say, is a jack of all trades, but it appears that he also may be a master of them. The 21-year-old is the Vice President of Leadership and Scholarship in Washtenaw Community College’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society, a congressional intern for U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell, and the Treasurer of the Political Science Club, as well as its Faculty and Staff Liaison.
A native of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Shackleford cites his family’s patriotism as a reason for his community involvement and drive.
“My father and his brother, all the different individuals in my family who have served in the military, they have been very inspirational to me. They have been courageous, and they served this country with honor, and due diligence. I think that’s helped inspire me to be a civil servant, seeing how patriotic my family is,” he said.
Moving to the Ann Arbor area on his own in August 2013, Shackleford faced navigating adulthood alone – an experience he described as simply “challenging.” He was drawn by the allure of the University of Michigan’s maize and blue – where he hopes to complete his undergraduate degree – and found WCC to be a perfect stepping stone.
“WCC is a bridge to the University of Michigan. The university, when I first graduated high school, was very intimidating and of course I was several states away. I had never visited before, and so I just wanted to familiarize myself with the area, with the institution itself, and to know whether or not this would be a good fit for me,” said Shackleford.
After U- M, Shackleford aspires to move on to the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago, to get an MD/JD, making himself both a law and a medical student. Marvin Boluyt, an instructor of biology at WCC, certainly thinks that Shackleford – a former student of his – is capable of this, and whatever he puts his mind to.
“He’s showed incredible determination and persistence to pursue his goals regardless of what gets in the way. He’s trying to soak up as much as he can, which is a good way to be,” Boluyt said.
Shackleford was eager to learn in class and asked countless questions, even attending Boluyt’s office hours, occasionally in which a few queries about an exam or essay question would digress into discussions of philosophy.
“He was completely unfazed by what anybody else thought. If he wanted to know something he asked…I think he wants to learn, and he’s so focused on that. He’s not worried about what that looks like – he’s not worried about what anyone else thinks about that,” said Boluyt.
Apart from learning in the classroom, Shackleford adds to his education with his vast involvement at WCC. Working as the treasurer for the Political Science Club, he generates budgets for events and for the club’s semester goals and organizes fundraisers. This year, through Student Activities, he also created the Arab-American Cultural Experience Trip – where WCC students visited a mosque, the Arab-American National Museum in Dearborn, and an Arab-American restaurant and pastry shop. As the club’s faculty and staff liaison, Shackleford works with Student Activities to get in event proposals, and does a lot of what he calls “logistics work”: reserving space for events, reserving tables and marketing.
Also the vice president of leadership and scholarship in the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, Shackleford is involved in student orientations and events such as the Transfer Fair, and overall, representing Phi Theta Kappa. He also helps honor students with their scholarships, and is self-described as the “person people go to if they have a problem submitting their scholarships, or any questions.”
In Shackleford’s eyes, committing his time to extracurricular activities at WCC can only be to his benefit:
“I wanted to enrich my education and surround myself with good people, develop communicational skills, gain cultural competence, and gain an overall enrichment that would compliment what I learn in the classroom. You’re taught communication skills, you’re taught interpersonal communications skills, you’re taught how to work with others, but by being involved with extracurricular activities, I’m given an opportunity to put that in practice,” he said.
Lexi Judkins, adviser to Phi Theta Kappa and coordinator of student organizations under the Student Activities Department, has worked with Shackleford since he began at WCC.
“Hardworking, dedicated, he’s a hustler…that’s the best that I can describe him as, he’s a hustler, and he seems to really enjoy it,” Judkins said.
All together, Shackleford says what truly helped him become who he is was finding his voice.
“I’d say the experiences really make a person who they are. Learning from my mistakes – everyone makes mistakes, but the goal is not to make the same mistake twice. You go on a path and you experiment, you discover who you are,” Shackleford said.