Welcome to our first Faculty Spotlight! In these spotlights, you can get to know some of the accomplished faculty here at Grand Canyon University. You can also read their advice for your doctoral journey.
Our first spotlight is on Mendi Davis, EdD, who teaches dissertation, leadership and research courses to our diverse learners.
Tell us about yourself.
I have been married for almost 21 years to my husband. We have two children, John, 16, a senior in high school, and Matilyn, 14, a sophomore in high school. Outside of work, my family loves to travel and particularly loves road trips – much to the chagrin of my teenagers. Prior to my career here at GCU, I spent four years as a first-grade teacher, three years as an instructional coach and 12 years as a police and fire 911 dispatcher.
What is your professional background?
My first career was a police and fire 911 dispatcher. I loved the job, but 12 years of nights, weekends and holidays away from the family forced me to make a career change. After completing my BS and MA in elementary education at Northern Arizona University, I was looking for a doctoral program that would allow me the freedom to work around my schedule and that of my family. At the time I started my doctoral program, I had two preteens and a husband who had put up with me being in school for five years straight already. I figured what was a few more years? Four years later, I am happy to say that those preteens are almost ready to graduate from high school and while my husband has endured vacations with a laptop in tow, I have completed my doctoral degree. My journey to faculty at GCU came from a desire to put my degree to good use, which was not possible in my position within the elementary school in which I was working.
What do I enjoy most in the College of Doctoral Studies?
Every day is a different journey within the College of Doctoral Studies. I love the diversity that this job brings that allows me to use various skills on a daily basis. I love working with learners at the beginning of their program when they are just trying to figure out the doctoral journey and those who are nearing the end of their journey and working on the dissertation piece. I find that often the learners that I am teaching and encouraging are actually teaching me and pushing me to be a more effective instructor. I also love the integration of faith and learning into the classes. The fact that I can speak and pray with a learner is an amazing benefit of this job and such a blessing.
What advice do I have for learners about to embark on the doctoral journey?
As a former learner at GCU, the largest piece of advice that I impart to learners is the sooner you get over yourself, the smoother your journey will be. I found myself in the position of a former 4.0 student in both my bachelor’s and master’s programs. I thought that my dissertation proposal draft was perfect and there was no way it would need revisions. I had a rude awakening! I remember getting that first review from AQR and refusing to look at it for almost six weeks because I was so devastated that I wasn’t perfect and what I had worked so hard on still needed more work in order to be approved. The sooner that I realized this process wasn’t personal, but rather to improve my writing and research, the smoother my journey became. Those revisions were still difficult, but looking at it through a different lens with the end in mind, helped me to reconcile the iterative writing process.
What was the most rewarding part of my own doctoral journey?
The most rewarding part of my own journey was not the actual graduation ceremony as one would assume. My actual graduation ceremony occurred some six months after my actual completion of my degree. I think the most rewarding part of my own doctoral journey was looking back and seeing the switch from a learner completing assignments to a scholar doing research. That switch was not always evident to me until I looked back at my prior work in early classes and really could see the transformation.
Learn more about earning your degree from GCU’s College of Doctoral Studies by visiting our website.