Senior, Selma native Strengthens Faith through Friendships at UA

April 9, 2020

By David Miller

A female university student studies in front of a campus building.
Nautica Davis will graduate with her BSW in May.

Despite all of Nautica Davis’ service work in high school and in junior college, she felt a void as she prepared to transfer to a four-year university in 2018.

Davis was keen to continue her service work, especially with children. She was eager to strengthen her personal relationship with God and needed a circle of like-minded people to help her grow.

Davis was also carrying an important flag for her family: one of nine children, she was a first-generation college student; Davis has a sense of pride and responsibility that underscores every decision she makes in her college career.

But, like many students, Davis needed a support network to complete her four-year degree and transition successfully into a professional career. And no school “left a connection and a spark” like The University of Alabama School of Social Work.

“I visited many schools, but when I first visited UA, I could feel something pulling me here,” Davis said. “I was going to come here at any cost.”

Davis transferred to UA in 2018 after studying at Wallace Community College, where she was in the honor society and served as student government president and a college ambassador.

Davis would continue that level of campus engagement at UA, where she’s currently a School of Social Work BSW ambassador and vice president of the School’s Undergraduate Social Work Organization, for whom she helped organize an arts activity for young boys with autism spectrum disorder.

“We made heart necklaces – ‘who is someone that you love?’ was the theme,” Davis said of the project. “It was really cool.”

Two female university students walk down steps outside a brick building
Davis, left, served as a SSW ambassador and vice president of the Undergraduate Social Work Organization.

Davis will graduate in May and plans to pursue an MSW degree before eventually moving into non-profit work with children, particularly in academic support. She was recently recognized as a Dean’s Scholar – a School of Social Work senior who has a 3.5 GPA or higher.

Completing her BSW will be further affirmation that she’s made her family “super proud.”

“My family is not very affectionate, and the fact that my dad was like ‘Nautica, I’m so proud’ means a lot to me,” Davis said. “With me going to the University of Alabama, our family relationship has grown so much stronger.”

Davis said she found a sense of community at UA similar to what she experienced growing up in Selma. She was a cheerleader at Selma High and helped start a cheerleading squad at her old elementary school. Besides babysitting, leading this program provided Davis her first platform as a role model; the children “knew my name and were excited to see me.”

“For young kids to smile and get something … they understood what sisterhood was and what cheering is,” Davis said. “I love being a light for someone and seeing them smile.”

Still, Davis said none of her achievements at UA would have materialized without a strong foundation in Christianity. She was bullied as a child, an experience that often left her questioning her faith, and, more importantly, not living to full capacity.

Then, she met classmate Maggie Bullington who introduced her to a campus ministry. Davis was hesitant to attend, but after joining, she “grew in understanding my faith.”

“Growing up, I didn’t understand what friends were … how they were supposed to act,” Davis said. “I found friends [at UA] through campus ministry, and in understanding them, I learned more about God through them – God’s power and knowing He was never against me. I feel like the light stayed because of Him, because many times, I’ve wanted to give up.

“Now I understand why I’ve gone through what I’ve gone through.”