Everyone belongs here Everyone belongs here Everyone belongs here

Joe Davis shares his Husky story, from his deployment to enrolling at the UW

By Joe Davis | Photo by Anil Kapahi | September 2023

Everyone has a unique Husky experience, and mine is no different. When I was growing up, higher education was not a topic discussed in my household. I joined the military at the age of 18, young and impressionable. My first duty station was Fort Lewis, Washington, and I thought I knew everything, but in fact knew nothing at all. One day, my platoon sergeant instructed me to go to the education center and enroll in college. He explained one of the benefits of serving your country is access to tuition assistance. As a young Black man in the Army, I didn’t think I had much choice, so I enrolled in Pierce College, located 30 miles south of Seattle.

Soon after, I was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite this break from higher education, I knew that attending the University of Washington was my goal and I looked at ways to make that dream a reality. I finished my first two years at Pierce College and because of the long-standing transfer student pathway to Washington’s four-year colleges and universities, I successfully applied to UW Tacoma (UWT) and completed my undergraduate studies.

As I reflect on my own experiences, I encourage you to reminisce and share with others the stories that made your Husky experience meaningful.

Joe M. Davis II, ’16

UWT was the perfect fit for me. As the board president of a local nonprofit in Tacoma, I had worked with UWT alums and was impressed with their ties to the community. UWT is one of the region’s leading institutions for military veterans, first-generation and transfer students. And with a student to faculty ratio of 16 to 1, my academic and extracurricular experiences were second to none. The relationships I made with faculty and fellow students remain as strong as ever. As I reflect on my own experiences, I encourage you to reminisce and share with others the stories that made your Husky experience meaningful.

A deep commitment to public service is a core value of our alumni association board leadership. Since graduating from UWT in 2016, I’ve served as a full-time law enforcement officer in Snohomish County and criminal investigator for the U.S. Army. My story, like so many others across our three campuses, reflects the diversity and life experiences of our students and alumni, each of whom contributes to UW’s rich tradition and impact. Please join me and 60,000 UWAA members in making the difference an organized alumni community has on the life of its university.

UW President Ana Mari Cauce often encourages non-traditional routes to public higher education. I’m a living example of those paths less traveled: a Black veteran, first-generation, transfer student, and UWT graduate. I speak from personal experience when I say: Everyone belongs here. Go Huskies!