South Alumna’s Journey from Student to Adjunct Professor and Now Law School
Posted on July 18, 2022 by Metty Wilson
Taylor Davis currently serves as an adjunct instructor at the University of South Alabama in the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice. Davis has held many positions during her time at South as a student and faculty member, all of which has led her to attend the University of Mississippi to pursue a Juris Doctor degree.
Davis, 26, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy and a master’s degree in public administration from South.
“I became interested in political science after taking an intro course,” Davis said. “Learning about the world of politics fascinated me. I became intrigued by political science research and statistical analysis. Because I also enjoyed the deep philosophical questions we spoke about in ethics in my class, I decided to pair both majors together and pursued a political science and philosophy double major.”
Earning a master’s degree in public administration allowed Davis to research citizen satisfaction with government services. Davis’ research inspired her to understand and learn more about the levels of government bodies and how decisions affect citizens overall.
During her time at South, Davis received many awards and honors, including Student Government Association Key Plays Award (2018), Political Science and Criminal Justice Impact Award (2017), Mortar Board Honor Society (2017) and Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society (2018).
Davis worked for the University during her undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate years. She was also involved in on-campus organizations and held several leadership positions. During her freshman year, Davis founded a Pre-Law Society on campus.
“I always knew I wanted to be an advocate,” Davis said. “Based on my research of future occupations, I decided my dream job was to be an attorney. So, I started the Pre-Law Society on campus. I served as the president for the next three years.”
In fall 2014, Davis was selected as a leadership scholar and was part of a learning community.
“Being around like minded students who wanted to excel truly was the catalyst for all the great things I accomplished thus far,” Davis said. “I am still in contact with many of my leadership friends and they are doing well. Brigette Soderlind and Dr. Mike Mitchell were pivotal to the success of our cohort, and I honestly can say it changed my life. "
Davis also served as SGA chief justice for two terms, from 2016 to 2018. During her final year of undergraduate studies, she served as a student assistant in the Office of Student Life. While pursuing her master’s degree, Davis was asked to be the graduate assistant for Student Center Services.
After earning her graduate degree, Davis began work as an academic advisor in the Department of Academic Advising and Transfer Services at South.
“Here is where I could make a real impact in the lives of students,” she said. “I was often a confidant, encourager, motivator and accountability partner for students.”
Davis found that her desire to help others was still vital to her.
“I also learned the inner workings of the University system through this position. Knowing how important advisors are in students' lives reignited my passion for advocacy.”
Time as Faculty
Davis was asked to teach “Intro to U.S. Government” for the spring 2022 semester, and she was asked to return for summer 2022.
“This opportunity was yet another chance for me to positively impact students and share my love for political science,” Davis said. “Being in the classroom when the concepts finally clicked was an awesome feeling. Now I teach online courses, but I still find joy in the whole process.”
Being in the classroom was a dream for Davis.
“My favorite part was our discussion time, where I allowed students to share their opinions on the topic of the day. I heard what was important to them and how they were able to connect the important concepts of the course to their daily lives.
“The most challenging part of the position was the grading. No one likes to grade papers. But, that’s to be expected!”
Davis had several mentors during her time at South, but she is grateful to Dr. Philip Habel’s guidance during her time as a faculty member. Habel serves as a professor and chair for the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice.
“Dr. Habel was instrumental in my success as a first time faculty member,” Davis said. “His confidence in my abilities allowed me to walk into a dream I previously thought would take longer to fulfill. That just goes to show sometimes mentors can see your potential before you can.”
Davis’ research mentor, Dr. Scott Liebertz, associate professor in political science, also championed her strengths as a student and supports her now as a colleague.
Other mentors included Brigette Soderlind in connection with the Freshman Leadership Scholarship and Student Life, Rachael Bolden as director of Student Center Services and Heather Sprinkle as Student Government Association Coordinator.
Next Stop: Law School
Davis believes attending law school is her next best step.
“My spirit of advocacy, love for people and overall knowledge of the processes of government, pushed me toward law school,” she said. “I wholeheartedly believe that working with law in some way is my purpose.”
Davis is ready to start this new journey and hopes to practice civil law in the future. She specifically has interests in family law and employment law, but is open to broadening her horizons or changing her mind once she starts school at the University of Mississippi.
Davis grew up in D'Iberville, Mississippi, and her parents are her greatest inspirations. She acknowledged their upstanding character and entrepreneurial attitude as a part of her current success. Davis’ parents have constantly challenged her to help others, and this quality has stayed with her over the years.
“I see my future as a bright, wonderful place,” Davis said. “Maybe I’m working as an attorney in a nonprofit, teaching law students as a law professor or maybe even working for a high-profile client who needs assistance.”
Davis is thankful for everything the University of South Alabama has offered her through the years.
“I feel more prepared than ever, and it’s all thanks to the knowledge, skills and experiences I’ve shared as a member of the South community. I may have more places to go and many more people to meet, but I will never forget my time in Mobile at the University of South Alabama.”