Determined, and wise beyond her years, Cal State LA Downtown (DTLA) Bachelor of Arts in Psychology student Roshawn Davis is creating her own destiny. After aging out of the foster care system and experiencing homelessness, she sought stability that she never found as a child. Opting not to rely on others for help, she realized that her life experiences were a springboard to a future that would allow her to share strength with others. Higher education was a necessary first step toward transforming past struggles into fuel for the future.
While earning her associate of arts degrees in both social services and psychology at Pasadena City College (PCC), an advisor counseled Roshawn on academic next steps and career goals. “Up until then I had received little direction on a career or anything much in the way of planning,” says Roshawn. “Studying psychology really helped me better understand where I had come from and where I was at that point.” Quietly insightful by nature, Roshawn realized that by continuing her studies in psychology, she could combine her knowledge with an innate understanding of people and human behavior to evoke change in the lives of others.
After leaving PCC, Roshawn received news that she was one of 25 current and former foster youth accepted into a full-time 24-month paid career development internship with the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office. “Being around professionals and being included on a team reminded me of why education is so important and how the work keeps the system going,” says Roshawn. “Now I was even more motivated to get a bachelor’s degree.”
Initially, Roshawn planned to attend a university outside California. After securing her position at the Public Defender’s Office, however, she discovered Cal State LA’s downtown location, convenient to her home and job, and within easy access to public transportation. “DTLA is its own little culture. The staff is family. They take the time to get to know you and are knowledgeable about financial aid, and provide answers to all my questions. They make it easy to be successful.” In addition, Roshawn says, the Cal State LA professors made her a better student, which in turn, has allowed her to find a proper balance between school, work, and life.
As she enters her final year at Cal State LA Downtown and continues her work with the Public Defender’s Office, Roshawn has taken a deeper interest in human behavior. She plans to pursue her doctorate in Industrial-Organizational Psychology (I/OP), the science of behavior in organizations, and a growing area of interest within human resources. “In order for organizations to be successful, they have to train and coach their leaders and managers on how to impart their knowledge among their employees,” says Roshawn. Her interest in company values and direction, including the value of human capital in organizations, stems from her desire to impact the system in a meaningful way. “What I’ve experienced and learned in life, at school, and at work has given me the power to help propel others to be the best that they can be.”
Roshawn plans to open her own I/OP consulting firm to help organizations bridge gaps between employers and employees. She hopes to forge a better understanding of the benefits of implementing positive change while providing solutions at work. “I want to show people how to believe in themselves, persevere, and be proactive, just as I did and continue to do.”