Terina Matthews-Davis, ’96, grew up blocks away from campus. The value of the university was instilled in her early in life. “My grandfather took me to my first Ohio State football game when I was seven years old,” she said.
Her family wanted her to attend Ohio State to earn an undergraduate degree, but many of her classmates from Bishop Hartley High School were going there.
“I didn’t want college to be like an extension of high school,” she said. “I needed to forge my own path.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, Matthews-Davis taught middle school for two years. Thinking a career as a higher education professional was a better fit, she worked as an Ohio State residence hall director and earned a master’s degree in the college’s Higher Education and Student Affairs program.
But while still a hall director, another degree beckoned — in Human Resources from the Fisher College of Business — which led her to two subsequent positions at the university.
“It was a privilege to work with undergraduate students during my 12 years at Ohio State,” she said. “I would tell them, if they could make it through the undergraduate experience without falling through the cracks, navigating some classes with 300 students, in my opinion, they were my heroes.”
Matthews-Davis created a student scholarship fund in honor of her mother, Darlene Matthews.
“I am a first-generation college student, and my mom sacrificed everything for me to go out-of-state to college,” Matthews-Davis said. “She is an entrepreneur and owns her own beauty salon.”
Matthews-Davis feels privileged to have studied with Philip TK Daniel, a scholar in residence in the college and the Flesher Professor Emeritus of Educational Administration.
“He was the first Black faculty since my second-grade teacher,” she said. “He was my Thurgood Marshall, someone who understood the law and was passionate about it. He could have been making hundreds of thousands of dollars as a lawyer, but he chose to be a member of the higher education faculty.”
“Thinking back on the time in his class, we were privileged to have learned from him. He challenged us to think, analyze and question, skills that guide my work today. He really taught me the importance of giving back, because he was willing to forego a big salary to teach students.”
She gives to express her thanks for all that Ohio State has given her.
“When the Consumer and Family Financial Services program invited me to sit on their inaugural advisory board, I wanted to show my dedication to it,” she said. That’s when she created the scholarship.
“The other piece is, since I’ve been in corporate America, if I can help a student of color be wiser and more aware and open more windows of opportunity for them through the financial services program, that inspires me.”
Matthews-Davis created the Darlene Matthews Scholarship Fund for Consumer and Family Financial Services undergraduate students in need and from underserved populations.