Nate Davis wasn’t even back to his seat when his phone started ringing. The former Marine sergeant, who’s now director of Xavier’s Center for Veterans Affairs, received an invitation to speak at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in September about how the Post 9/11 GI Bill impacted him.
Although hesitant at first, he agreed. And as soon as his two-minute speech was complete, the emails and calls started.
“There were a slew of them,” he says. “I got calls from vets thanking me for saying what I said. I got emails from older vets who were not going to school but just wanted to talk to me. That shocked me more than anything. I got a call from a Xavier student saying that I made him proud to be a Xavier student.”
Davis’ speech was in the heart of prime time, in front of 10,000 people in the arena and several million on TV. But it almost didn’t happen.
“When I got the call, I was actually watching the Republican convention on TV with my mother,” he says. “There was so much mud slinging that I thought I didn’t want to get in the middle of that. I thought if I got on stage for one side or the other it might divide veterans because that’s not what we’re about. We’re not Democrats or Republicans. We’re veterans. I kept thinking of all the bad things that could happen.
“But my mom said, ‘Don’t let things out of your control scare you away from doing what you’re supposed to do.’ I thought, ‘She’s right. This is not about you. God just gave you a stage to tell the story of veterans and you don’t know what effect your message might have.’ So I agreed. When I got there, it felt like I was supposed to be there at that moment. I felt I had a purpose.”
What kind of impact did it have? He may never know the total impact, but two veterans enrolled at Xavier as a result—so far.