Grant Davis once worshipped Peyton Manning. So much, in fact, that he wanted to be him. Settling instead for studying biosystems engineering, the senior from Shelbyville, Tenn., now holds the position of student services director. Davis agreed to an email interview with The Daily Beacon to discuss his plans for SGA and give us insight into his personal life.
The Daily Beacon: Why did you run for office?
Grant Davis: I decided to throw my hat into the ring for student services director because I knew that I had the most experience for the job and I love participating in Student Services. Student Services has been a major part of my involvement since freshman year, and I served as the assistant student services director last year. As the assistant student services director, I had a whole year to observe Student Services and develop necessary changes to the branch. I knew that if I could be successful as the assistant director, I would be successful as the director.
DB: What was it like to lead the campaign? What was difficult or rewarding about it?
GD: Leading a SGA campaign is unlike any other experience at UT. Life as a candidate involves little sleep, meeting countless students and being at the center of the campus rumor mill. Campaigning is extremely stressful, and I spent many long nights working with the stellar Engage managers. Campaigning developed my professional and business skills, because I was helping manage 100 volunteers and a fairly tight budget. The skills that I learned on the campaign trail have already benefited me as the student services director because I can more effectively communicate with the administration and with organizational presidents. The friendships that I made while campaigning was the most rewarding part of the experience. Certain events in people's lives bring them together, and operating a six-month campaign for SGA is one of them.
DB: What was the most memorable moment from the campaign?
GD: I will never forget the third day of the campaign. After months of negotiating with Chick-fil-A, Moe’s and other businesses, my campaign was primed for our most important day of campaigning. I will never forget the atmosphere of 1,000 students surrounding our tent to grab one of 750 Chick-fil-A sandwiches and the other food we had donated for lunch. I met so many people that day, and I saw the excitement in the eyes of our campaign volunteers and students as they gathered around our tent. It was truly amazing to see so many students on our campus excited about getting involved.
DB: What are your immediate long-term goals to accomplish with SGA? Are there any special projects or plans you’re especially passionate about?
GD: My short-term goals for Student Services involve recruiting strong members to be part of the committees. In order to accomplish anything this year we will need passionate members on the committees. My intermediate goals involve creating a partnership between the admissions office and the Traditions Committee on Student Services to promote Big Orange Fridays and helping Government Affairs organize a debate on campus. I am also interested in finding other special projects for the committees to undertake. A special project that I would like to see would be a "Gray Out." I want students to be able to participate in the new uniform experience like the athletes.
DB: Is there anything you want to say to the readership?
GD: Please communicate your concerns and ideas to your senators, which will help SGA to help you. SGA's influence comes from the focused voice of students, and we cannot advocate on your behalf if we do not know what you desire.
DB: What is your favorite childhood memory?
GD: I will never forget the Saturdays of my childhood. I would spend the morning riding in the tractor cab with my dad before coming home to watch Tennessee win championships. I would then finish off the day by fishing for bass on the lake.
DB: What are your career goals?
GD: I'm still unsure exactly what career path I want to follow. As of now, I want to go to law school and develop a career in agricultural and scientific public policy.
DB: What are your top two favorite things about UT?
GD: What other university allows you to spend your senior year developing an agricultural UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle)? One of my other favorite aspects of UT is the unlimited opportunities available to be involved in for students. I have made almost all of my collegiate friends from organizations that I have been involved with.
DB: What was the very first thing you wanted to be when you grew up?
GD: Like every other six-year-old boy, I wanted to be Peyton Manning. My backup plan was to be a doctor. I have always had a knack for math and science, so I thought that it would be a good fit. Somewhere along the road I became an engineer who wants to go to law school.
DB: If you could travel to any country, where would you go and why?
GD: Jake might want to go backpacking around Europe, but New Zealand is where it's at. I would love to go hiking in the islands interior; however, I would recommend visiting the U.K. and Spain. I studied at Cambridge last mini-term and loved every minute I was there.
Follow Davis on Twitter at @gdavis9812 and SGA at @UTKSGA.