A Professor to Love
Since she was a young girl, Assistant Professor Kathy Davis knew she wanted to be a teacher as she grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. Instead, “God took me on a different path into nursing, where I taught every day, just in a different setting than a classroom,” Davis explains. She earned her master’s degree in nursing education in 2020. Then, in July 2021, the department of nursing at Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) invited her to join as a full-time assistant professor.
Besides teaching in the hospital setting, Davis has always loved students of all ages, from 4-year-olds in Sabbath school to teaching teens honors in Pathfinders, to now teaching nursing students at the university level. When asked about her teaching style, she reveals, “There was no certain student approach that I learned in academia. After working in the emergency department for over 25 years, I learned that connections are key. Interacting with people gives me good energy and makes me strive to be a better version of myself. I believe in the goodness of people, and that we should respect people, really see them, listen and show them value.”
From observing Davis in the classroom, Dr. Kerrie Kimbrow, chair of the department of nursing at Southwestern Adventist University, describes her as an energetic, creative and engaging teacher. “For example,” Dr. Kimbrow explains, “Davis has developed escape rooms for learning disaster response, and she often takes props to class to help her students understand a new concept. Students appreciate her interactive teaching style, and they love hearing about her experiences as an ER nurse.”
Thinking back on the experiences that have shaped Davis into the teacher she has become, she remembers, “My mom taught me that love and kindness go a long way in this life.” As someone who values family and the lessons learned at home, she says, “My family has given me a glimpse into the depth of the Creator’s love for us.” One of her recent favorite books is Winning the War in Your Mind by Craig Groeschel. In it, he writes, “You are a weapon of righteousness in a world of darkness.” To Davis that means, “Simply show up, be authentic to who you are and students will know you care.”
Making connections with students has profoundly impacted the department of nursing at Southwestern Adventist University, according to Dr. Donna Berkner, vice president of academic administration at SWAU. “Her knowledge in the nursing field is current, and her ability to transfer that knowledge to student learning has made a significant impact in students’ lives. The love she pours into students shines through her daily interactions as she works with students to grow future nurses," she says.
Davis teaches Pathophysiology, Disaster Readiness and Intervention, and Med-Surg 4. For Kathy Davis, though, inside and outside the classroom, it all boils down to this: “I have learned over the years that I am worthy of love, and so is everyone else.”
By Michelle Bergmann, Southwestern Adventist University Freelance Writer