Marcus Davis Named 2022 Truist Distinguished Leader of Merit

From serving as a social justice graduate assistant to co-founding the new Multicultural Management Association, Davis is helping foster a community of inclusivity on campus.

By Laura J. Cole

For Marcus Davis ’20, being a leader means being self-aware, being humble, and being able to cultivate and inspire change while focusing on the needs of the community he or she is serving.

All are qualities he has developed and shown throughout his involvement at Crummer and Rollins, which has earned him this year’s Truist Distinguished Leader of Merit award—Crummer’s top recognition for a student leader that’s presented annually to one student who has shown the most leadership growth and potential.

“We have a panel of Truist representatives, past recipients, and business leaders who look for how the student has grown or developed through their time at Crummer,” said Sabrina Deshner, assistant director of Crummer’s Center for Leadership Development, who oversees the award process. “Is the candidate growing and developing through the process and is he engaging others to come along with him through the leadership journey? The answer to both for Marcus is yes.”

Marcus Davis

As part of the 3/2 Accelerated Management Program (AMP), Davis graduated in 2020 with a degree in international business before embarking on his MBA. During his five years as a student, he has served as a resident assistant, a graduate hall director, and was part of the student convening group. He was among the first to hold the newly established social justice graduate assistant position at the Center for Leadership Development and, along with Papaa Kodzi ’21, helped co-found the Multicultural Management Association.

A recipient of the College’s Fiat Lux Award and the Ronald Pease Service to Campus Award—which recognize the most established and honorable undergraduate leaders on campus, Davis is no stranger to making a difference on campus.

“I feel that as long as I have the privilege and the ability to progress a community, I want to do everything I can for the next generation of students who come after me to make sure they have a better experience while they’re here,” he said.

One area he has focused his attention is on making sure other students of color have a positive experience at Crummer and to ensure everyone feels included. That was the inspiration behind being part of the team that created the Crummer Multicultural Management Association.

The idea sprung from listening to what others were saying as part of the student convening group. During those sessions, Davis heard others emphasize the need for a place where they felt comfortable with others who have shared experiences to focus on professional development and opportunities for service.

“Pappa and I created the Multicultural Management Association along with some really passionate faculty advisors essentially based on that,” he said. “In only three months, it’s already one of the most successful student groups at Crummer.”

For Davis, the focus on inclusion is personal. His first experience at Rollins was as a high school student in the Upward Bound program, which prepares students from underrepresented populations to apply to and succeed in college. It was during that time that Trayvon Martin was murdered in Sanford.

“I was a kid then, and I wasn’t equipped to address that then, but I’ve been able to put lessons from that and others in my toolkit,” he says. “They helped me feel more prepared, especially in the midst of the chaos around George Floyd. When Crummer wanted to engage their students around the topic, I was part of the small group that wanted to do something.”

Part of doing something is thinking through the entire Rollins experience from being a student to being an alum. He admits he has benefited from a slew of alumni mentors, including trustee Gerald Ladner ’81 who worked with Davis to identify potential career fields and develop an in-depth job search plan.

And Davis remains committed to being part of the conversation. Last month, he helped lead conversations around bias, barriers, and breakthroughs for students, alumni, trustees, faculty, and administrators during Alumni Weekend.

“I have a lot of people who are here supporting me and I’m just grateful for the opportunity to become the Truist Distinguished Leader of Merit because I think it’s shown that what I’m doing is making a difference in my community.”

Davis was honored alongside Vincent Giardino, who was named runner-up and the Truist Leader of Merit.