Barry McNamara  |  Published May 05, 2021

Familiar Face Earns Leadership Award

Megan Davis, the student supervisor of College’s COVID testing, among Highlander Leadership recipients.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – This year’s recipient of Monmouth College’s White and Crimson Leadership Award should be a familiar face to every member of the campus community.

MEGAN DAVIS: Senior from Chandler, Arizona, honored with White and Crimson Leadership Award for h... MEGAN DAVIS: Senior from Chandler, Arizona, honored with White and Crimson Leadership Award for her work as part of College's COVID testing team.Megan Davis ’21 of Chandler, Arizona, received the honor, which was part of last month’s Highlander Leadership Awards. Her award recognizes students who have taken extra strides to go beyond the call of duty to have an impact on the campus community.

Minimize the impact of COVID-19 on campus was Davis’s main job this spring. Serving as the student supervisor for the College’s COVID testing efforts – and working closely with the faculty/staff leadership team of Joan Wertz, Nick Carlson and Amy Warrington – the public health major was likely across the table at some point from every student, professor and staff member over the course of the semester.

Recruited by Wertz, Davis returned to campus about 10 days prior to the rest of Monmouth’s students in the spring to take part in training for the SHIELD Illinois program, which deploys the University of Illinois’ innovative saliva test. The lion’s share of the 2,500 COVID tests taken this spring by the campus community came Jan. 22-24, three days prior to the start of classes Jan. 25.

“(Megan) successfully managed nearly all aspects of running the testing center. She has been an integral part of ensuring our campus community’s safety during the pandemic.” Joan Wertz

Wertz said Davis “has been an integral part of ensuring our campus community’s safety during the pandemic.”

“I’ve been very impressed and pleased with Megan’s work as the student coordinator of the COVID testing center,” said Wertz. “She oversaw 10 student workers’ schedules to make sure the center was always staffed and the samples were delivered to a testing lab, worked with our athletics department to ensure our athletes were testing according to their protocols, and successfully managed nearly all aspects of running the testing center. She has been an integral part of ensuring our campus community’s safety during the pandemic.”

A safe start to spring

By knowing everyone’s status with the coronavirus just prior to entering the semester, the College was able to have as safe of a start as possible. The final day of classes was May 5, marking the first semester since the fall of 2019 that Monmouth completed a full semester without sending all its students home to learn remotely.

After the initial wave of COVID testing was conducted in the Huff Athletic Center fieldhouse, Davis settled into a routine of staffing the College’s smaller testing site in the Haldeman-Thiessen Center on Tuesday and Friday mornings. Special testing days for Fighting Scot student-athletes meant she sometimes worked Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, too.

“I never thought I’d be looking at tubes of saliva for a whole semester,” said Davis.

‘Stayed because of the small campus’

Davis began her time at Monmouth as a biochemistry major, but “I realized I didn’t want to go to med school.”

“But I still wanted to be in a health field,” she said. “I decided that my energy would be best suited for public health. I did some research on my own, and Professor Wertz helped make it happen.”

“I realized I didn’t want to go to med school, but I still wanted to be in a health field. I decided that my energy would be best suited for public health.” Megan Davis

Davis traces her love of science to a high school teacher who taught biotechnology and helped his students become certified in the field before entering college. For Davis, that college was originally going to be the University of Arizona, but she visited Monmouth in the spring of her senior year after being recruited for golf.

“On my visit, my tour guide knew everybody she passed, and I thought that was pretty cool,” said Davis. “I knew it wouldn’t be that way at Arizona. So golf brought me here, but I stayed because of the small campus.”

Now, Davis has interacted with everybody on campus, and she met even more people thanks to a semester abroad opportunity at Finland’s University of Tampere in the fall of her junior year. It turned out that was the last full semester for students to be abroad before the pandemic hit worldwide.

“Everyone thought at the beginning, ‘Oh, it’s just a bad flu. We’ll get sent home for a couple weeks and then we’ll come back,” said Davis of the spring of 2020. “But it got worse and worse. By the end of the semester, I realized, ‘Oh, this is real. This is a big deal.’”

In addition to her major, Davis will graduate from Monmouth with minors in chemistry and mathematics. This fall, she’ll attend a two-year master’s degree program in global, environmental and occupational health at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado-Denver.

“I hope to work with a private institution that works with institutional health,” said Davis, listing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one such possibility.

Other students who were honored at this year’s Highlander Leadership Awards include:
• Peer Mentor of the Year: Zach Harris ’21 of Mascoutah, Illinois
• Good Neighbor Award: Savannah Franklund ’21 of Longmont, Colorado
• Student Employee of the Year: Anita Gandara ’24 of Chicago
• Leadership Excellence: Bryan Peters ’22 of Addison, Illinois
• Emerging Leader Award: Elexus Mowery ’22 of Moline, Illinois
• Student Leader of the Year: Abierre Minor ’21 of Chicago

Faculty and staff honored were:
• Advisor Excellence: political science professor Michael Nelson
• Outstanding Career Mentor: chemistry professor Laura Moore
• Monmouth Difference Maker: assistant director of admission Erin Lafary

Organizations honored were:
• Service Excellence: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
• Organization Excellence: Association for Student Activity Programming
• Kaleidoscope Award: Mindful Monmouth and Association for Student Activity Programming

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