Exploring the intersection of social justice and meat consumption

Senija Davis
Senija Davis sits in the junior commons area in O'Shaughnessy Hall. O'Shaughnessy is home to the Leadership and Social Change Residential College, in which Senija holds the role of People House President. Photo by Luke Williams for Virginia Tech.

What's your major?

I'm a sophomore double major in Animal and Poultry Sciences and Spanish, with a minor in Leadership and Social Change.

 

What are your career or life goals?

I want to research the effects of human consumption of meat and how that affects certain communities more than others in terms of obesity and disease. I want to research how that stems from food-borne illnesses and differing management practices, especially from the meat industry. My animal science background will help me see different ways that animals are raised and utilized for food; then, my social change background is the communication bridge to educating the community about what we are we actually eating. So much comes down to nutrition. I’m actually applying for a couple of different research programs right now!

 

Are you a first-generation college student?

I am, yes.

 

Do you belong to any student organizations?

Yes – I’m involved in MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences), BSA (the Black Student Alliance), SAAS (Sisterhood of African-American Students). I’m on the application review committee, as well as a mentoring program called LEAP. I’m also the President of the People House in the Leadership and Social Change Residential College.

 

What drew you to the People House inside of the broader LSCRC?

I think what drew me into the People House was a love for learning about different people. I’ve gotten the pleasure of traveling twice – to China and Spain – and my trip to Spain was a really interesting experience because I got to live with a host family. That totally transformed my perspective to see that there’s really no “right” or “wrong,” there’s just “different.” Once we begin to learn as humans that we’re all just different – but the same – we can begin to unravel some of the biases and injustices that we see today. So in the People House I focus on getting the word out about differing cultures and building awareness, because I think people just don’t know enough. That focus has really cultivated empathy in me. 

"Once we begin to learn as humans that we're all just different - but the same - we can begin to unravel some of the biases and injustices that we see today."

Senija Davis reads in the library in O'Shaughnessy Hall
Senija Davis reads in the library in O'Shaughnessy Hall. Photo by Luke Williams for Virginia Tech.

Could you talk a bit about your role specifically as the President for the People House?

As the President I oversee event programming and coordinate with outside community partners, looking to find different ways to reach the residents of O’Shaughnessy. For example, recently we had Cook Counseling Center come and speak on mental health in minority communities, and at the end we went through some action steps that students can use to improve their mental health and help with the stresses of college.

 

Would you recommend that students get involved in a Living-Learning Program?

I would definitely recommend it! First of all, you’re usually only in the residence hall for one or two years, so you want to make the most of it. You want to know the people that you live with. We have the pleasure of having a Faculty Principal that lives in our residence hall, and he’s brilliant and very well connected – C. L. Bohannon, along with his wife Jenn, she’s awesome. I think it’s great to get the chance to build those relationships and get involved with faculty and each other, especially on the basis of social change. It’s much more like merging rather than just living together. It’s a place of true community and opportunity.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

One of my mentors often said “qué será, será,” which means “what will be, will be.” It’s kind of like “it is what it is.” I don’t know why that stuck out to me, but when I really grasped that quote, it resonated with me because I’m a firm believer that things are meant to happen the way they are. So for example - if I’m in this community, I’m here for a reason – if I’m People House President then I need to really be People House President because I’ve been given this opportunity.

 

What advice would you have for other students to Virginia Tech?

Take advantage of the opportunities you’ve been given here because there’s so much available. All the opportunities outweigh all the challenges - you just have to find them, because they’re not always just going to come to you.