This blog begins a miniseries of introductory pieces designed to familiarize our readership to enFocus’ new fellows.
By: Melissa Davidson
I’m a Southern gal, born and bred. I love grits and say “y’all” every day. If it’s fried, it’s my friend. My Southern is deep and strong and includes a stint at a small university in Alabama. (Don’t worry, Irish fans. It wasn’t THAT university.) The University of Montevallo is where I earned my B.A. in English and History. This quite naturally led to my pursuing a Ph.D. in Mathematics at Notre Dame. It didn’t take me long to realize that Notre Dame is a great university that shares space with an amazing city. South Bend has won my heart. In doing so, the city created a desire to stay here. Fortunately, enFocus came along.
I was simply enthralled with the mission of enFocus. What a great idea! What fabulous people! I feel like I just met my eight new best friends. The Fighting Irish may have attracted me with the opportunity for higher learning, but enFocus is giving me the chance to help the city I love while becoming a well-trained asset for its future. The chances for professional development and the forward-thinking culture of South Bend’s business environment have given me the opportunity to continue to make my home here. And on top of all that, there’s the South Bend Chocolate Company, a local establishment dedicated to chocolate. What could be more awesome? That alone would be enough for me to consider staying in the area.
It is easy to see why I would jump at the chance to remain in South Bend. However, a few of you are probably curious about my unique combination of English, History and Math degrees. As I said, I received my undergraduate degree from a tiny school, the University of Montevallo. In case you’re curious, Montevallo has the oldest homecoming tradition of its kind in the U.S. of A. Really. Wikipedia it. Anyway, it didn’t take me long to realize my brain required something else. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew that no matter what it was, I needed more math. I started at the bottom with pre-Algebra in one of those huge lecture classes with about 200 students. One night (I was working and going to school at night) my professor asked me if I ever considered getting a math degree. (Yes, I was rocking that class.) I said, “No. Who would do that? I would never get a math degree.”
Well, God was listening, and apparently He has a wicked sense of humor.
Several more classes, a moving truck or two and boom, I was at Notre Dame. I found an advisor, wrote a thesis, and eventually they gave me a nice piece of paper certifying my accomplishments. Now I had to look for a job. I was bummed at the thought of leaving what I now considered to be my home. Fortunately, God was feeling a bit of remorse about His (not really) funny joke when I first heard about enFocus. Perfect! I could help the community, learn some great skills, and work with the some of the brightest, most innovative people in the world! (Okay, maybe I’m sucking up a little there but the exaggeration’s actually not that huge.)
That’s my story, in a pecan nutshell. I came from the South to the Midwest and found a home. The best part is, I didn’t just find a physical home in this great city. I found an emotional home. At enFocus, I am surrounded by bright, talented people who want not only the best for South Bend, but the best for me too. The sprinkles on my hot fudge sundae is that those two things go together.
I know, sounds simple, right? Well, I may be glossing over a few details for brevity’s sake, but I’d be more than happy to fill you in later. We can meet for some chocolate and talk about it.