Hospital chaplain establishes nursing scholarship
With no scholarship offers to attend college, the future looked bleak for Swannanoa, N.C., native Vance Davis in 1955. Everything changed in the fall of that year after several Berea College alumni visited Owen High School and gave a presentation about the College. Davis was fascinated.
“I went to Asheville to take the Berea entrance exam, and I was accepted,” he said. “So, in August 1956, I became a freshman at Berea College.
“I had become part of the lively youth group at my church in Swannanoa,” Davis added. “But as a freshman at Berea I did not go to church.”
By his senior year, however, he was president of the Baptist Student Union as well as the Campus Christian Youth Council, and he even sang in the Chapel Choir.
While a student, Davis met his soon-to-be wife, Elizabeth Tester, and the two set their minds on healthcare. The spiritual influence of Berea played a role in his choice to switch majors from physics to a pre-med track. He and Liz considered becoming medical missionaries and were engaged during the winter semester of 1959 before marrying in August 1960.
Today, Rev. Dr. Davis feels especially connected to Berea’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” and has worked to uphold that belief in his personal and professional endeavors. As a hospital chaplain, he has ministered to individuals of every creed and denomination, and he credits Berea for his introduction and exposure to those from diverse backgrounds. The Berea experience also aided him as a military officer in Japan, and in China as a training supervisor of Chinese students doing pastoral hospital care.
Davis has been giving back to Berea College since 1963 but recently established the Sarah Elizabeth Tester Davis Scholarship Fund. The fund, which provides scholarship support for a nursing major from Tennessee, honors the memory of his late wife while helping Bereans reach their academic goals in perpetuity.