Bennett Davis serves as a mentor, role model for UNK students

KEARNEY, Neb. (Nebraska) – Bennett Davis Jr. is a big man with a big heart.

The 6-foot-9 former college basketball player and coach is the director of community standards and student conduct at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

It’s an intimidating title, one that involves applying the UNK Student Code of Conduct to ensure Lopers have a positive and safe experience during their time on campus. But Davis wants students to see him more as a mentor than disciplinarian.

“My work is about interactions with students,” she said. “I want to help as many people as possible.”

The door to his office inside the Nebraskan Student Union is always open, according to Davis, who welcomes the opportunity to meet students or parents.

If someone is struggling with their mental health, Davis is there to listen and refer them to other campus resources. When a student doesn’t perform well in class, he’s ready to offer advice and guidance at Learning Commons. If an athlete needs someone with a similar background to talk to, they come in.


When meeting with students, Davis speaks from experience.

The 27-year-old grew up in Raymond, Mississippi, a small community west of Jackson.

“Jackson shaped a lot of things about me. It was a tough area: a lot of gun violence, a lot of drugs. Just a crazy area in general,” she said. “I remember my parents always telling me, ‘If you want to make it and you want to be successful, you have to hang around like-minded people.’ It’s something I always think about.

After graduating from Central Hinds Academy, Davis played basketball for one season at William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He knows what it’s like for him to feel out of place, which is why he transferred to Jones County Junior College in Mississippi.

Davis received his undergraduate degree from Jones College before joining the Mississippi Valley State University men’s basketball team, where he earned degrees in health, physical education, and recreation. He remained at Mississippi Valley State as a graduate assistant, completing a master’s degree in sports administration while assisting then-head coach Andre Payne and participating in a mentorship program that allowed him to positively impact the lives of student-athletes.

He spent the next 14 months working as a unit chief in the juvenile justice system in Nashville, Tennessee.

“It was a very difficult time in my life,” she said. “I was dealing with kids as young as 10 who were robbing people and racing cars and killing people, and they didn’t think about it.”

That hasn’t stopped him from developing impactful relationships.

“I remember when I left, there was a little boy who just started crying. I asked him why he was crying and he said, “You’re the first male figure who really cares about me.” I actually felt like I wanted me to do better,” Davis said. “It’s something that has stuck with me. We don’t realize, even in such a short amount of time, how much we can impact young people’s lives.”

Davis was an assistant women’s basketball coach and director of housing, student engagement and student conduct at Colby Community College in Kansas prior to joining UNK in April 2022.

“I am a very spiritual person. I let God dictate certain things. I have been praying a lot and have just been told this is where I should be,” she said. “I just want to be somewhere I can help, somewhere I need.”


In addition to his role as director of community standards and student conduct, Davis is a consultant to the Black Student Association and is involved in events and activities through the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion. Just two months after arriving on campus, he was the keynote speaker for the Juneteenth celebration.

“I’m trying to prepare our young students for the future and help them become better leaders,” he said. “As we get older, this is the generation that will hold those important positions, so we have to instill those good habits and good values ​​in them. We want these students to be able to make the right decisions.”

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