As a police officer and nurse, Darius Davis will have two chances to help others. (courtesy photo)
It didn’t take long for student Darius Davis to make an impression on Michelle Alexander, an assistant professor in Health, Physical Education, & Wellness at Thomas Nelson. Within a week of the two meeting for an advising session, Alexander was telling others about him.
“I truly believe he embodies so many of the amazing qualities we see in our students, and he is a great example of how the College can support students in a career change, or in Darius’ case, a career addition,” she stated.
Davis has been a patrol officer in the Newport News Police Department for almost four years, but at one time, he wanted to be a trauma surgeon. However, his goal now is to be a trauma nurse. But he doesn’t want to give up his police job, either. He wants to do both.
“My goal is to form a partnership with Riverside Regional Medical Center and my department,” he said. “By doing that, I would work about 20-30 hours a week at Riverside, and I would continue my 40 hours a week during the daytime with Newport News Police Department.”
In addition to his duties as a patrol officer, he teaches at the police academy, coordinates the security at Riverside Regional Medical Center and is a liaison. The close ties he formed with emergency room personnel led him to Thomas Nelson.
“A number of nurses at Riverside had gone through the nursing program at Thomas Nelson and recommended it, saying it’s one of the best,” Davis said. “It’s weird to say part of policing got me into nursing and back into school.”
After earning his pre-nursing certificate, he was accepted into the College’s nursing program this spring. He has four more semesters (about 11 classes) before earning his associate degree in nursing. He plans to continue at Old Dominion University.
Davis was born in Virginia Beach, but grew up in Norfolk and Chesapeake. He graduated from Indian River High School in 2013, and tried college once before, but it didn’t work out. The Newport News Police Department reached out to him in 2017, and he fell in love with the job.
“I learned early on, unlike the movies and TV shows, you as a police officer are actually just the community caretaker, especially in local police,” he said.
He called it a “privilege” to make sure those you grew up with, love and spend time with are safe. You help people when they are at their worst.
“No one calls 9-1-1 because they’re happy,” he said. “I enjoy the fact it is a true position of being the person in the neighborhood that you go to for help.”
Family is important to Davis, who has a wife and14-month-old foster twins.
“Once you become a good enough friend of mine, then you become like family to me,” he said. “It is ingrained in me to take care of people.”
That started at an early age. He and his sister were raised by a single mom who worked multiple jobs. He often had to help with his sister, and he got a job early on to help support the family. He enjoys police work because he’s able to help even more children.
He has thought about becoming a crisis negotiator for the tactical operations unit, or a special victims detective.
“It kind of goes hand-in-hand with nursing,” he said. “Eventually, I’d like to become a supervisor.”
There’s no doubt Thomas Nelson was a better option for him than a four-year institution, and not just financially.
“It’s the same quality of classes,” he said. “Thomas Nelson has been nothing but accommodating to me.”
He added his professors are far superior those his colleagues have had at other institutions, and he has encouraged several co-workers to attend Thomas Nelson. He still has a long way to go, and a lot going on in his life. But he has a message for others.
“I just want people to know it’s not impossible as a parent,” he said. “I have two foster twins, and I’m able to take my classes, be a police officer full-time and handle my caseload.
“When you put yourself forward and you do your best, there’s nothing that you can’t accomplish.”
Alexander, for one, noticed that immediately.
“I was really inspired by Darius and his story,” she said. “He plans to continue his work in law enforcement even after becoming a nurse – how amazing is that?”