Lake Land educator finds strength in struggle: A feature

Chase Austin, Reporter

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Since she was a young girl, Kim Davis always wanted to be a teacher. She remembers pretending to have students and writing down things on her grandmother’s chalkboard just like her teachers did. Now, as a tenured Lake Land instructor of 14 years, she’s making real the imagination of her childhood. In her office NE002, at the time of our interview handsomely embellished with Lake Land College decorations, she remarked of her goal here at Lake Land, “I want to instill that love of education, that passion for it.”
But first, she told me about her journey here. She has always been driven towards education. After getting her bachelor’s in early childhood education, she became a parent educator. But Davis had an inclination for the classroom and returned for her master’s degree. After completing her master’s degree, Davis worked as a high school guidance counselor. There she discovered that she liked working with older students. When the position opened at Lake Land, she thought it too serendipitous to pass up. And she’s had a great time with Lake Land since saying, “I’m proud of my students here at Lake Land. I love Lake Land. It has been so good to me. I’m proud I can give back to the students here.”
Davis does give back to the students at Lake Land. As the Future Educators Associations advisor, she teaches in classes primarily concerning education. She offered her opinion on Lake Land College’s education program stating, “I love that in our introduction to education class, it gets our students out into the school setting for 30 hours, early on. So, they can be incoming freshmen and, if they think they want to be a teacher, they can get that practice out in a classroom. I love that we do that because when I was in school, I didn’t set foot in a classroom until I was a junior in college. What if I thought, ‘Wow. This isn’t what I thought. I don’t want to do this.’… We offer the opportunity to do it early so they know right away whether it’s for them or not.”
Davis’s time at Lake Land hasn’t always been easy. Though it was caught early, as she was diligent about doing self-exams, Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. After repeated trips to the doctor and warning signs that something was amiss, Davis begged to have preventative surgery so that she would have no chance of developing breast cancer. Insurance prevented her from doing this as she was “low risk”. Repeatedly she was denied preventative care and six months after a mammogram, cancer had developed. She first underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, and then 6 months of chemo. All the while, she had to take a year of targeted therapy. For every three weeks for a year she had to undergo those treatments and for the last six years, she has been on a hormone blocker. Davis says chemo was the hardest, remarking on the almost debilitating trip from the closest parking lot to her office Davis had a support system though, gushing over the support of her family and how Lake Land rallied around her, with coworkers giving her food and gas cards.
Davis’s advice for helping loved ones with cancer is remarkably similar to what her friends, family, and coworkers did for her. Davis said the best way to help someone suffering from cancer, “I think just being there for them. Listening. Sometimes people that are loved ones who are really close want to make everything better. They want to have an answer. But sometimes there isn’t an answer. Sometimes it’s allowing that person to just get their emotions out. Sometimes it’s doing things rather than asking. Put yourself out there.” She had advice for those struggling with the disease that affects so many saying, “Learn everything about your diagnosis. Try to remain positive. With friends and family, it’s hard for them to understand what you’re going through. Maybe find someone who has been through it before.”
There is a light in the darkness though. Davis says her outlook about things has changed. “I think I appreciate things more. I don’t worry about the small stuff. I think I have a better understanding of the important things in life. The perspective. Just enjoy life. It’s a wonderful life.”
Davis lastly wanted to emphasize the importance of spreading information about cancer. “There are twenty-year-olds that get breast cancer, all the way up to 80 years old. There are students here where it could impact them. So having that awareness, the importance of exams, and getting that information out there is important.

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