To spend time with Twana Davis ’93 is to experience what it means to live wholeheartedly. She exudes joy, warmth, and care for everyone she meets.
In the late ’80s, Davis intended to pursue her college education at Purdue or Dartmouth, but Calvin was offering a bus from Chicagoland for a Fridays visit, and she decided to make the trip.
At lunch, most of the tables were full, so she took an open spot at a communications arts and sciences table. She sat next to professor Marten Vande Gutche, who asked her what she wanted to study. She told him she had considered journalism but was also interested in something health or education related. She attended a school for visual and performing arts in middle and high school and was also considering a career that incorporated her artistic side. Vande Gutche encouraged her to consider speech pathology, explaining that it combines health care, education, science, and
art. Intrigued, she went home and realized the direction of her life had changed from a single conversation.
Davis enrolled at Calvin the following year and pursued a degree in communication disorders, later adding elementary education with a language arts focus.
Having grown up in the public schools, student teaching was her first exposure to Christian elementary education. Through the experience, she gained a deeper understanding of how different social and cultural groups see the world through different lenses. Reflecting on that experience and the recent civil unrest in the United States reminds Davis of how important it is to be aware of cultural differences when interacting with one another.
“In some of my SPAUD [speech pathology and audiology] and education classes at Calvin, I learned fairly early on that God’s masterful hand can be seen interwoven in the rich lives of each of his children, fashioned in a mosaic of colors and creeds; that each is profoundly valuable and come uniquely bejeweled with individual gifts, talents, and needs. It is our responsibility as Christ followers to connect, strengthen, and inspire those whose paths we are so blessed to cross and be reciprocally enriched and blessed by their journeys.”
During her time at Calvin, the university considered eliminating the SPAUD major, but Davis and her classmates lobbied to keep it. Today, it’s one of Calvin’s strongest majors and one of its first master’s programs.
After Calvin, Davis earned her master’s in speech pathology from Michigan State University before moving to California and working in the San Jose school system. Eventually she started a private practice and found success working with children with autism spectrum disorder. Her reputation grew, and she was getting referrals from industry notables in Beverly Hills and Hollywood. Eventually she relocated to Texas and is now the clinical director for therapies at Rise with ABA, an applied behavior analysis clinic for children with autism spectrum disorder, as well as a speech language pathologist for Katy Independent School District, in the Houston area.
In the past decade, Davis has reconnected with Calvin by joining the Calvin Alumni Board and serving as president of Calvin Alumni Association during the final year of her term. She also deepened her relationship with the SPAUD department.
Through all her moves, she clearly sees God’s hand guiding her. “I believe the work I’m doing embodies Calvin’s mission as my colleagues and I help to redeem speech and communication for patients who have trouble expressing themselves. I’m profoundly grateful for being able to play a role in that mission.”