Published October 08. 2013 4:00AM
New London — Aaron Davis has accomplished more in his Connecticut College career than your average student.
Then again, there's nothing average about Davis.
Davis is an accomplished student, dancer, runner and singer. He's studied abroad and worked as an admissions ambassador.
On top of that, Davis is popular with his classmates. He can make a perfect stranger comfortable with warm and engaging personality.
"Isn't he something?" said Jim Butler, men's cross country coach. "He's a special kid. … He's a true renaissance man."
"He's so highly admired by his teammates. I don't think there's anyone on campus that doesn't know him. "
The second youngest of nine children, Davis discovered there's a big world outside of his neighborhood on Willetts Avenue in New London. Using his natural curiosity as a guide, he's followed an adventurous path.
Deciding to attend The Williams School in the seventh grade started his journey. Williams offered a curriculum that intrigued Davis, who took Latin and modern dance, and helped expose him to his future college home.
Now a college senior, Davis is in the midst of a busy and fascinating final year.
"It's been an exciting year for me, because it's my last year," he said. "Also, I've been on this campus for awhile. I came here as a seventh grader at the Williams School in 2004 and I'm graduating in 2014. I spent almost a decade of my life on this campus.
"Things are going well. I really am coming into understanding what I want to do."
Blessed with an explorer's spirit, Davis has never been afraid to step out of his comfort zone.
Up until attending Williams, his dance experience basically consisted of performing at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School ice cream socials.
He embraced the dance department at Williams, where Barbara Parish taught him technique and fueled his creativity.
Eventually, he joined the Eastern Connecticut Ballet and benefited from working with Lise Reardon, the executive director and founder.
As a high school senior at Williams, he took a tuition free class at Conn through the New London Scholars Program. He chose dance and discovered the college had a strong program.
It was an easy decision for Davis to go to Conn College. He's majoring in Classics and Dance. He's flourished and plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in dance.
"Coming here to Connecticut College was one of the best decisions I've ever made so far in terms of dance trajectory because I've learned so much here," Davis said. "I can't say enough about how supportive and faithful and inspiring the faculty is here but also how contagious their attitudes are towards learning and using dance as a research process and using dance as a methodology to answer and ask questions."
As a junior, he took his first trip on an airplane and became his first family member go out of the country, studying abroad in Peru. He studied indigenous people and globalization.
Last summer, he returned to Peru on an internship, continuing his research on Afro-Peruvian dance, which is the subject of his honors thesis.
He also has an impressive academic resume that includes participating in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program that supports minority students in furthering their education. He was honored last spring as an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar.
"That was a gem, a precious moment," Davis said of the Arthur Ashe Jr. honor.
Davis, who ran cross country at Williams, joined the Conn College team as a sophomore and also competes on the track team. He appreciates the support that he's received from people like Butler, who's helped him juggle a hectic schedule.
"Once I was supported, I felt I could really explore and really develop," Davis said. "I really found opportunities and windows."
Butler is curious to see what the future holds for the multi-talented Davis.
"I think you'll see his name on lights on Broadway some day," Butler said. "He's that good. … He's going to go big time after Conn College."