My Davidson | A Student Blog How I Found Davidson

a compilation of three students

Three current students from around the world share how they found and chose to attend Davidson College. 

Ben Sempowski '23

Ben Sempowski ’23 (he/him) is a biology major and neuroscience minor from Durham, North Carolina.

Although I grew up only two hours away from Davidson College, it wasn’t until the summer before my junior year of high school that I found Davidson. It was the polar opposite of what I thought I wanted in a college: small, southern, liberal arts, tucked away in a small town. Here we are three years later and I wouldn’t change a thing about my decision to come to Davidson.

I went to a public arts magnet high school in Durham, North Carolina, that prioritized not only academics, but also emphasized the benefits of an education in the arts. Each student at my high school, Durham School of the Arts, had an art concentration, alongside their other academic requirements. I quickly realized that I thrived in this kind of environment and knew that it was crucial for the arts to be a part of my life after high school. What became clear in my initial college search is that I didn’t want to go to school just for lighting design (my chosen arts concentration), because while my heart was in the arts, a career in medicine was also calling my name. Lighting design was my creative outlet. It provided a way for me to take a mental break from academics and dissociate into a fictional world–gaining a sense of peace, sitting in a dark theatre creating art with light and color. It became therapeutic. One of my theatre teachers had mentioned to me a friend of hers who was a cardiothoracic surgeon by day and a designer at a local small theater by night, my perfect ‘Batman’ scenario. Little did I know, Davidson would be the place for me to begin living out this dream.

I was first introduced to Davidson through a coworker at an internship who attended Davidson. I was in the middle of the college search process and after learning it was in North Carolina and just a quick drive down I-85, I added it to my list of schools to visit, not giving it much more thought. Davidson was the first school I ever visited, and I left in awe. My parents just thought I was naïve as I couldn’t stop talking about everything I loved about the school, but they didn’t realize it was because I could perfectly envision how Davison would enable me to live out my ‘academic-artistry’ dream.

During my visit to Davidson, I had the opportunity to speak with current students and was shocked that nearly all of them were involved in the arts in some capacity. A physics major was the lead in a recent play, sociology and biology students were co-presidents of an a cappella group, and a studio art major was also pursuing a minor in neuroscience. As you can imagine, I was pretty excited. So I said yes, and luckily Davidson also said yes to me, and here I am living out my dream. Just last semester, I was taking intensive courses in neuroanatomy and organic chemistry during the day and then heading over to the theatre building for rehearsals and tech week for a show I was designing.

I truly am grateful that I found Davidson and that it has been an amazing place to pursue my dream alter-ego scenario, because after all, how can I successfully perform a surgery if the lighting isn’t properly designed in the operating room!

a young woman wearing a sweater and a bun with sunglasses on her head

Morgan Henderson ’23 (she/her) is a psychology and communication studies double major from Chino, California.

My coming to Davidson College could be described as less of a choice and more of a huge coincidence.

During homecoming preparation my junior year, my advisor, Rene Ubom, approached me about a scholarship known as QuestBridge. This scholarship was intended for low-income, high achieving students, like myself she said, and strongly encouraged me to apply. However, there was one catch–the deadline was in a week. At the time I was covered in glitter from head to toe, and was not entirely excited by the thought of more applications.

Despite my reservations, I researched QuestBridge and found that it would fully cover the tuition for any college I was admitted to. Up until then, I had always known that higher education was only possible if I secured any and all funding to attend. To find out that I was a step closer to a full-ride both motivated me and terrified me. (For those who do not know, QuestBridge allows you to apply for up to 12 colleges in order of preference. There is no way to know which you will get into, but there is a chance you could get into any of the 12.)

Taking a risk, I decided to apply anyway. That week was certainly the most stressful time of my life; my mother can attest. I remember submitting my last application at 11:58 p.m., and the look of relief on my mom’s face as I did. For the next month or so, all I could do was wait. There was no way to know what would come of it; we just hoped it would be worth all the effort in the end.

Sure enough, it was. I made it to the final round, and it was finally time to apply and rank my 12 colleges. Only there was one minor problem, I did not know of 12 colleges, let alone five. I had not explored many options outside of California and had no idea what college looked like on the East Coast. This meant I had never heard of Davidson College. So why did this liberal arts college make it onto my list? It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but I liked the school colors.

With such a flimsy reason for attending, I had never expected to get in. I assumed I would end up in California like my brother, the place I had always been. So when I opened my portal and saw Davidson College beside the confetti, I cried. I was getting sent across the country, far away from my family and everything I knew.

At the time, I could not see past my disappointment to truly appreciate the opportunity before me. My visit prior to enrolling in the fall only worsened my dread. I did not see all the things I saw in college movies. I felt so out of place in this new state, in a new school with new people, and a culture so vastly different from mine. But I knew I could not pass up an opportunity that I had worked my whole life for.

Now as a junior, I realize that being in such a different and challenging environment has allowed me to grow in certain ways I would not have back home. I have had to grapple with my race, my ethnicity, my faith, and the people I choose to bring into my life. More importantly, I have realized that the amazing people I have met make these four years worth it. Davidson College is not perfect, but I can see the ways it might have been the perfect place for the person I was when I enrolled.

Headshot of Tasos Pagounas

Tasos Pagounas ’23 (he/him) is a biology and computer science double major from Ioannina, Greece.

Do you ever take a step back and think how many random events have had to happen for us to be where we stand today? Well…Okay, I understand if not; it’s not the most usual thing to do, but I often wonder at what an amazing ride it has been to get me to Davidson.

Sometimes it doesn’t even feel real. You see, my story starts from the forgotten cultural and political crossroad between two countries, the Greek minority of Albania, a Greek community within the borders of the neighboring Albania. Raised in a small village of about 50 residents, dreaming big was not a luxury minority Greeks had, especially in an underdeveloped country like Albania. Despite my strong connection with my roots and the traditions my family had struggled to preserve, I could never see my future there. I always wanted to see something more, something bigger, something greater, something beyond the borders my siblings and I were never supposed to cross.

When I first told my parents I want to study in the U.S., they laughed. “People from here barely make it to Athens (capital of Greece, dream destination for a Greek of our minority), how are you making it to the U.S.?” I didn’t know back then, but I certainly couldn’t do it from there. At the age of 14, I packed a suitcase full of dreams and ambitions (I also took some clothes), and I moved to the place where I was born — the place I call my hometown — Ioannina, Greece. My family could not join me. I could not ask them to abandon their lives to help me build mine. If that was my story, I had to write it alone.

Long story short, through a lot of hard work for a couple of years, I somehow managed to get in touch with a college counselor working at the American Embassy of Athens. I got on a call with him, and I listed all the schools where I wanted to apply. He said to me, “Don’t stress too much because most of these schools are going to reject you.” During his entire monologue, however, he mentioned this small school that loves its international students, “Davidson, I think it’s called.” Oh right, right. That’s where Steph Curry played basketball. I did some research to see what else I could find and thought, “I might as well apply.”

And just like that, I discovered this place. A phone call that only happened because “why not” and it is the reason I am here. Or it may have been my decision to switch countries that got me to that phone call. Or it could have been my dream as an elementary school student that got me on that phone call. Who knows…it’s random, maybe coincidental, but I am grateful it happened. I am grateful that that man at the American Embassy picked up the phone and introduced me to Davidson, and even more thankful that Davidson gave me the opportunity to get where I always wanted to be. Who knows what awaits ahead! What I have learned in the process is that an unclear future is an exciting one!


  • April 13, 2022