In ‘Partying With A 4.0,’ Missouri S&T Graduating Senior Offers Insight On Finding Balance
On Saturday afternoon, Ashley-Ann Davis will offer some words of wisdom to her fellow graduating seniors at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. She’s one of just four S&T students scheduled to speak at the university’s in-person commencement ceremonies. But when it comes to giving life advice, 22-year-old Davis hasn’t just written a speech — she’s also got a small book to her name: “Partying With a 4.0: Finding Balance in College.”
Davis, who is completing her bachelor's degree in engineering management this week, published the volume last summer. In it, she offers concrete suggestions for how to make the most of one’s undergraduate experience, making the case that it’s possible to find academic success while also making sufficient time for other activities and sheer enjoyment.
She draws on her own experiences the past four years in doing so. At Missouri S&T, she’s juggled her studies alongside internships with a construction company and service as president of the university’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, among other campus roles.
“It definitely is a battle of time management, and it gets to a point where you really have to start saying no to certain things,” Davis said Thursday on St. Louis on the Air. “So even though I did all those things, there’s an equal amount of things that I turned down. … For example, my internships were during the summertimes, so I wouldn't have to balance that with schoolwork unless I did a summer class.
“And when I was president of NSBE, I tried as much as possible not to take on other workloads. … I’m very schedule-oriented. I plan my weeks and my days, so [it’s about] making sure I’m finding time for myself when I’m scheduling all of those things as well.”
In her book, Davis outlines a three-column system for figuring out priorities and defining one’s vision during college.
“You really, first of all, need to analyze where you want to go [and] where you’re at right now,” Davis explained. “And the things that don’t align with those things, you should get rid of them. If you say you want to get to destination A but you’re playing in area B, it’s like, ‘OK, what do I need to take out of this to get to this point?’”
Discipline — and how to develop it — is another theme that emerges in the pages of “Partying With a 4.0.”
“Essentially, when you keep trying at something, you keep showing up every day,” Davis told host Sarah Fenske, “it’s not going to work every day, but over time, it’s going to add up.”
Born and raised in Jamaica, Davis moved to Jefferson City at the age of 16, which some challenges, including culture shock.
“It kind of felt like starting kindergarten all over again,” she recalled. “You don’t really know anyone, you’re just thrown into a completely new environment [and] all my friends were back in Jamaica. … It was a lot of changes and challenges. But I think it really helped me to learn to adapt. So when I came to S&T, it was kind of like, ‘OK, we’re going to adapt again the same way we did when we moved here.’”
She plans to take that same perspective into her next chapter as she looks toward pursuing a doctoral degree at the university beginning this fall.
“I’m an engineering management major, but my emphasis is in civil engineering, so a lot of the things that I’ve been focusing on, especially going into my research [for the PhD], is sustainable infrastructure,” Davis said. “We all have heard about climate change and everything that’s happening, and we better make sure that our buildings and everything of that nature are in a position to deal with the changes that are happening.”
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.