IU senior Jordan Davis was this year’s student commencement speaker for the class of 2022’s graduation on May 7 at Memorial Stadium.
Davis majored in Marketing and International Business and has a minor in Spanish. She has also filled a number of administrative and leadership roles in various organizations at IU, including work as an orientation leader, director of Health and Well-Being with IU Student Government, and vice president of outreach with Kelley Student Government.
As vice president of outreach, she organized a campaign called “I am, I am not” which dealt with the deconstruction of stereotypes.
“We wanted to raise awareness with majority and minority groups by saying ‘This is how I’m stereotyped, but this is what I’m not and this is how I’m not that’” Davis said. “So, for example, ‘I am a Black woman, but I am not always strong because that’s really damaging.’”
In the same position, she founded and co-led the first Black Student Action Committee as a response to the low percentage of Black students in the Kelley School of Business.
“It’s to make sure Black students have an equitable experience at Kelley because there are so few of us,” Davis said.
Davis was inspired to speak at her graduation because of her long standing ambition of being a talk show host. She said Oprah Winfrey, Issa Rae and Beyonce are some of her professional inspirations.
“Everyone thinks I’m joking when I say that but I’m actually dead serious,” she said. “I’ve known for years, that’s what I’m supposed to do.”
She has plans to produce her own talk show that diverges from the traditional medium and removes some of the corporatization from the process, allowing viewers to more personally connect with the guests.
Davis and her classmate Sika Kodzi co-host a podcast called “You’re Too Loud.”
“It’s all about Black women taking up space and owning their voice and being as loud as possible,” Davis said.
They’ve interviewed a number of high-profile guests, including Shontay Lundy, CEO of Black Girl Sunscreen, and Broadway actress Sasha Hutchings.
Davis said her main motivator has to do with legacy. She said she often had a hard time finding her voice in her childhood in Dayton, Ohio. After her experiences at IU helped her find it, much of the work she does in community outreach is influenced by that struggle, she said.
Davis said she hopes to help others avoid the same path that she took, and named this hope as another driver behind her choice to speak at graduation.
“I haven’t seen people that look like me doing it,” Davis said. “I feel like there are people younger than me that would do really well in it, so I want them to see someone that looks like them.”
Her speech touches on themes of imagination and the reinvention of our world.
“Just because our parents or our grandparents were told to accept the status quo, that doesn’t mean that we have to,” Davis said. “ It’s definitely our job to see things, be curious, challenge it, question it and ultimately reimagine the way things work for the future generation.”