As a child, Drake Davis modeled himself on his father, a Navy nurse.
“I would pretend to mow the lawn, shave, and bandage up my older brother,” Davis recalls. “Whatever he did, I was there being his little shadow until one day, when he had to leave for a while.”
Davis’s father told him the Navy was sending him overseas so he could help the good guys. He proudly imagined his dad as a hero, saving lives on the front lines. It was at that point Davis says he decided to be a Navy nurse, just like his father.
Throughout his youth, Davis impatiently planned out his future. He knew what he wanted to do, but he also knew he had to take it one step at a time. In high school, Davis joined the junior ROTC, where he learned basic military life skills, including uniform inspections and falling into formation. He did so well in junior ROTC that he ended up being named platoon leader. Davis also joined a practical nursing program offered by Fairfax County Schools, where he thrived, eventually becoming a certified nursing assistant.
His next step would be one of the biggest yet: finding just the right nursing school that would allow him to develop his skills and interests even further toward his goal.
“I researched universities with the top nursing programs in my home state of Virginia and New Hampshire, where my dad lived,” the Yorktown native says. “When I visited Radford’s beautiful campus, I knew I would be happy here. It wasn’t too big and wasn’t too small — it was perfect.”
Davis says that Radford was already his top school when he was accepted and offered the Highlander Distinction Scholarship. He says that investment showed that Radford truly believed in him, and it solidified his decision to become a Highlander.
Now a junior at Radford, Davis says his time in the nursing program has been exceptional and helped him grow academically and professionally — especially in the clinical skills and sim labs. He says those complex, hands-on experiences are where students “truly learn how to be a nurse.
“Before I came here, I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself as a student,” Davis says, “I needed a place to help me become the best I can be, and choosing Radford to help develop that confidence is one of the best decisions I ever made.”
Davis’s dream of being a Navy nurse hasn’t dimmed in the intervening years since he first decided on that path as a young boy. Recently, he applied for and was accepted into the Navy’s nurse candidate program. Nationally, only 69 people were accepted into the program, and Davis was ranked No. 2 in the U.S. and No. 1 in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“It is an honor to be accepted into this prestigious program,” Davis says. “It truly means the world to me, and I wish I could put into words the joy and happiness I felt when I learned I was accepted. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to become a Navy nurse, and it is surreal how close I am to making it a reality.”
To be accepted into the program, Davis had to submit a degree completion plan consisting of all his prior Radford University classes and all future Radford nursing classes he would take. He was also interviewed by two current Navy nurses and scored 10 out of 10 in both sessions.
Once he was accepted into the program, Davis enlisted in the Navy, but he won’t be leaving the New River Valley any time soon. The Navy wants him to concentrate on school while finishing his nursing degree at Radford, and he won’t be deployed during that time.
After graduation, Davis will be commissioned as a Navy nurse officer, take the NCLEX exam, then go to officer development school (ODS) at Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island for a five-week training program. Only then can Davis finally start his career as a Navy nurse.
“I am currently a Navy nurse candidate student,” Davis says. “Once I graduate from Radford, I will be commissioned as an ensign. In my current contract, I signed up for eight years, with four of them on active duty and the other four in the ready reserves.”
At his enlistment ceremony, Davis was able to have another experience he had always dreamed of — his father, now a retired Navy nurse, swore him in while in uniform.
“It was a special moment for me and for him,” Davis says. “Still, to this day, I want to be like my dad, and now that he’s home, it’s my turn to go overseas because I still believe the good guys need my help.”
For the next year or so, though, Davis will be concentrating on finishing his nursing degree at Radford. He says that his education has been instrumental in everything he has accomplished so far and will be an important stepping stone in reaching the next plateau of his development.
“Nursing school at Radford showed me that I need to trust my abilities and be the first one in line for every challenge that is presented to me,” Davis reflects. “I have grown confident in my academic abilities and wish I could tell my younger self, ‘you can do it.’ I want to thank Radford because without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”