Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2021 graduates.
Maybe it was the risky contraptions he would create to make skating down his neighborhood hill easier, or maybe it was his love for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes in high school, but graduating senior Cortez Davis, 22, always knew he wanted to be an engineer.
The St. Louis native graduated in May with a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a certificate in cross-sector leadership.
He has been a mover and shaker during his time at ASU, as president of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and a member of ASU TRIO, a set of federally funded programs designed to support low-income students, first-generation students, students with disabilities and veterans in pursuit of a college degree. He is also a recipient of multiple scholarships, including the New American University and Next Generation Service Corps scholarships.
Davis is currently a research and development intern for water management firm ACO, where he is using the skills he learned in class in the real world.
“My experience here has been amazing, and I have truly been able to immerse myself in the engineering experience from conception to product evaluation. I have learned so much, and a lot of technical skills that I got at ASU that I never thought I would use were able to be put to work,” Davis said.
Davis shares his experiences as a Sun Devil and the plans he has post-graduation.
Question: Would you tell us about your experience being a TRIO student?
Answer: TRIO has been an amazing experience for me. My computer crashed in the middle of the fall semester, and I was easily able to check a laptop out from TRIO and continue my studies. I have also gotten a tremendous amount of financial advice and overall support from the staff at TRIO as well as attended some fun events, including community service, where we were able to create toys for service dogs.
Q: How has being a part of Greek life shaped your time at ASU?
A: Being a part of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity truly changed my college experience. Not only did it give me a platform to speak to my community and come up with amazing ideas, it provided me with a family away from home that supported me and pushed me to be better. I love my brothers in Phi Beta Sigma!
Being president was tough but ultimately gave me the experience I needed to be a leader and develop my public speaking skills.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: Every experience, no matter how boring or unimportant it may seem at the time, has value in it. I’ve learned so many things from bad experiences or experiences that I thought weren’t helpful that I’ve learned to treasure every moment and aspect of life.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: I chose Arizona State University because of the beautiful campus, warm weather and the proximity of the campus from some family I had in Arizona. I also saw that ASU was No. 1 in innovation, and as an engineering major, that is something that truly stands out to a prospective student.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Make the most out of your college experience. There is so much free time to get involved with organizations or go to different events. If you immerse yourself in ASU and its communities, it can be one of the best experiences of your life!
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: At the end of every semester, I would sit at my favorite spot on “A” Mountain. I would reflect on my previous semester and speak of my dreams and wishes for the next one.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: After graduation, I plan to travel for two months and enjoy my last, long summer vacation before I start working full time for Northrop Grumman in their space systems department.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: Racism and hate.
Written by Carmen De Alba Cardenas, ASU Student Life