May 15, 2016, was a big day for Colorado College’s Davis United World College (UWC) Scholars — those students who attended United World College high schools before coming to CC. Dressed their best, the “UWC-CC family” filed in under the arches of the Stewart house, brimming with excitement to meet Shelby M.C. Davis.
Davis, who co-founded the Davis UWC Scholars Program with Philip O. Geier, was scheduled to receive an honorary doctor of humane letters at the Colorado College Commencement ceremony for his efforts to transform lives and increase global diversity in American higher education.
During the reception held for him at the Stewart House, Shelby Davis, who was accompanied by his wife Gale, told of his travels and spoke about his motivation for giving millions of scholarship dollars to students from around the world. He credited his generosity to a simple step in the “Road Map to Life’s Journey” passed down to him by his parents. According to the Davis Road Map, the first 30 years of life should focus on learning, the second 30 years should focus on earning, and the final 30 years — or third stage of life — should focus on returning. He said his third stage began when he learned about UWC from Geier, with whom he co-founded the Davis UWC Scholars Program.
“Shelby Davis’ speech remains the most profound and the most touching moment of my entire graduation weekend,” said Murisa Ahmetasevic ’16 from Bosnia and Herzegovina (UWC-USA).
According to the 2016 Report of the Davis UWC Scholars Program, the program supported 43 students worldwide in its first year and has since grown to become the largest international undergraduate scholarship in the world, enabling 6,909 students from more than 152 countries to attend college in the U.S. During the spring 2016 semester, Davis UWC scholarships supported 46 students at CC. Nearly 20 new students from UWC high schools plan to enroll at CC in fall 2016, bringing the total enrollment of CC’s Davis UWC Scholars to more than 50.
Ricardo Tenente ’16 from Portugal (UWC-Mahindra, India) said, “The Davis UWC scholarship was not only an academic vessel to all of us, it guided us to each other and to life-lasting friendships that no education can match.”
The next day, when Shelby Davis took the stage at the Commencement ceremony, “UWCers” could be heard cheering him on as he received the honorary degree.
In addition to the Davis UWC Scholars Program, Colorado College students have benefitted from the generosity of the Davis family through the Davis Projects for Peace. The program was established in 2007 with a $1 million commitment from Shelby’s mother, Kathryn W. Davis, on the occasion of her 100th birthday. Undergraduate students at American colleges and universities in the Davis UWC Scholars Program design grassroots projects, and funding is awarded to the most promising and feasible projects in an effort to encourage motivated youth to create and test their peace-building ideas.
Most recently, James Daudon ’16, Anna Kelly ’16, and Lauren Schmidt ’16 were awarded $10,000 for their Davis Project for Peace proposal, “A Generation for Peace: Creating Opportunities for Nepali-Tibetan Youth Engagement.” The grant will fund an after-school extracurricular program in Nepal serving Tibetan and Nepali children.