Jetaun Davis ’05 came to Notre Dame as a first-generation college student and participated in many multicultural and diversity initiatives, both during her time on campus and as a graduate. After enjoying her first career in online marketing, she returned to Notre Dame in 2014 and now serves as program director for the Enrollment Division's Office of Outreach & Engagement Recruitment. The role allows her to pursue her passion for making a difference in people’s lives as she helps the University recruit a talented and diverse student body.
What drew you to Notre Dame?
Notre Dame got on my radar because my high school coach’s nephew had played basketball here, and she encouraged me to apply. I’m from Atlanta and the farthest north I had planned to go was maybe Chapel Hill, because I thought I wanted to be a sports agent. But she encouraged me and I thought, we’ll see what happens. I applied, got accepted, and had alumni calling me, including Rochelle Valsaint, who lived in the same neighborhood as me and served on the Black Alumni board. I called Cindy Santana Cubillo, who’s now a colleague, and she was able to work with Financial Aid and help get me a better package. Those relationships and seeing people go the extra mile really helped make the difference for me.
Talk about your experience as a student and a young alum.
My experience here at Notre Dame as a student was great. I came through the Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars Program because I am a first-generation college student. So I arrived here several weeks earlier than most students and took classes in the summer, where I learned my way around campus. I was highly involved and took part in a number of multicultural groups. I was part of Shades of Ebony when it first started. I was involved in the Asian Allure performance show. And I worked as a multicultural student recruiter in Admissions.
After graduation, I moved back to Atlanta and over time I became involved with the Black Alumni board. I was coming to campus regularly and I really enjoyed the time I spent talking with students. And one of the things that pulled at my heartstrings and drew me back to the University from the corporate world was realizing through my service on the board that students, especially those from underserved populations, do not always know how to prepare for college.
Through that work it became clear to us that we needed to get to students from underserved backgrounds younger. You have these incredibly bright minds who just never had the resources or direction to really reach their full potential until it’s too late. I have always been really passionate about helping teens, so this position was a natural fit.
What do you you do in your current role?
I oversee all operations for my office—from programming to strategy to marketing. Our target age group is 7th-10th graders. The goal is to identify highly talented students across the nation from all backgrounds—including Catholic students—and help them understand what life is like at a top university such as Notre Dame, and also build an affinity for the University.
We engage with them by producing digital content around topics that are important for their age group and for college students. So we discuss things such as stress management, identifying your unique gift and talents, managing your time, finding the right college fit, and leadership. Prospective students watch broadcasts created by Notre Dame students who serve as anchors and digital media producers and guests, and they can submit questions. It’s a unique way for highly talented students who don’t know much about the University to learn more, and also an opportunity for us to bust myths about what it means to be a Notre Dame student.
We also have partnerships with community-based organizations, including Matriculate, which offers peer advising to students from underserved backgrounds, and The Posse Foundation, which identifies students who are leaders and who may be overlooked in the regular application process.
How is your team making an impact?
One of the things we want to communicate to prospective students is that the University offers you a menu of opportunities to sample from, and you can have whatever experience you want. And that is why, with the student employees we have in our digital programming, we look to have a real diversity—not only of ethnicity but also of perspectives and interests. That way, any potential student can see themselves here.
To learn more about the work the Office of Outreach & Engagement does to attract high-achieving students from all backgrounds, visit oer.nd.edu.