KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — Raven Davis will forever call the Mississippi Delta home, but the sky is now her calling.
A 2019 honors graduate from Simmons High School in Hollandale and a member of the Delta Health Alliance’s (DHA) Deer Creek Youth Council, Raven received scholarship offers from a number of colleges and universities before initially deciding to attend Delta State University in Cleveland. But in the back of her mind, a different plan was percolating.
“I always thought I could do something on a different level,” said the19-year-old Arcola native. “When I weighed my options, I realized I wanted to do something that wasn’t expected – something bigger than college that could be an add-on to my education.”
That “something” was the United States Air Force. Becoming part of the military tugged at her as did the Air Force’s core values.
“’Excellence in what we do, integrity first and service before self.’ Those values of the Air Force are the same values that I have and can use to grow as a person,” said Raven. “I wanted to be part of that.”
Following her enlistment and then basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Raven moved to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi where she began technical training school, studying in the areas of administration and support. And once again, as she’d done in high school, Raven graduated in September at the top of her class. In fact, she had the highest grade in her class.
“This is going to help me rank up faster,” said Raven. “Right now, I’m an airman. My plan is to stay in the Air Force for at least 20 years and become a master sergeant, a position where I’ll be able to train others and work with people. That’s what I enjoy, the customer service aspect, helping people along the way, interacting.
Raven credits DHA’s Deer Creek Promise Community’s Youth Council by providing the leadership skills that have helped her achieve her goals. She was also part of DHA’s College Promise Initiative and College Mentoring Program.
“Those programs gave me a solid foundation for my future,” she said. “They are important parts of my life.”
The youth council is comprised of students in 9th-11th grades from Hollandale and Leland who want to make a mark on their communities. Modeled after the highly successful Indianola Youth Council, members must hold a 2.8 GPA or higher; have recommendations from teachers, administrators and community leaders; complete an application; and undergo an interview process. The youth council focuses on college readiness, laying the foundation for post-secondary success by providing workshops and exposure to events such as college tours.
Though she may have left the Delta, Raven doesn’t forget about the people and communities that shaped her future – and she doesn’t plan to leave them forever.
“At some point, I would like to come back and to help improve the place that gave me so much, mostly in education,’ said Raven. “The Delta is my home and I want to give back to it.”