Marching to her own beat: Davis’ natural ability and gravitation toward good lands Salutatorian


By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Playing the flute in the Millington Central High School Band for four years — “Sounds like fun.”
Being a member of the student council as a junior and seniors — “OK, let’s do it Briana Fields.”
Hey now you’re a member of the National Honor Society — “That’s cool I guess.” As all the achievements and awards racked up for MCHS senior Samarra Davis, she found out March 13 another honor to add to the list was Class of 2020 Salutatorian.
“I’m grateful,” she said. “ I wasn’t actually working to be Salutatorian. I was just kind of attending school.
“I really didn’t keep busy,” Davis further explained. “I did my homework. I was paying attention in class. If I was bored at any point, I would just get on the computer and find something to do.”
Davis’ approach of going with the flow while doing right has payed off with the No. 2 ranking, acceptance into Mississippi State University to major in Computer Science and two very proud parents in Tonya and Zachary Davis.
“She’s always been an A-student,” Tonya recalled. “ It kind of came natural to her. We really didn’t have to do anything. She wasn’t the child we had to say, ‘Do your homework.’ She did it on her own.”
Zachary said his household has already raised five children earning college degrees. They never put any pressure on Samarra to live up to her siblings.
“It’s a very good blessing being the both of us retired military to have a child like Samarra,” he noted. “Traveling around, for her to figure out what she wanted to do, she did it on her own. I’m very happy for her.”
Moving around the country, Samarra’s one consistency in life was the work ethic of her parents.
“In this environment, we used to move a lot,” she recalled. “But they always had this drive to push themselves wherever we where at. For example, my mom is working even though she doesn’t have to work. I just did this because I know my parents are proud of me. And that’s all I really need.”
Tonya retired from the Navy after 20 years. Zachary, who grew up as an Air Force child, joined the Navy for a 22 year career.
Zachary said his baby girl must have been paying attention to him while growing up.
“She’s set in her way like me,” he said. “She watched both of us work hard and she’s got that in her that she’s going to work hard. Sometimes she does play hard. I noticed she started to read early. Then she got into the band. Everything seemed to come natural to her. I’m just happy she kept on striving for what she wants.”
Davis developed a bond with her band mates.
“I love it being in the band,” Samarra said. “I really loved the trips. But just being in the band, it was a sense of family being in it.”
Samarra’s first sense of family started in her home. While growing up Tonya said her daughter’s approach to school was like déjà vu.
“Her personality and the drive to do things without people having to tell you what to do came from me,” Tonya said. “That was me in school. I would come home and do my homework. Nobody had to say anything to me. I would get it out of the way and that was that.”
Tonya said Mississippi State will be the start of her daughter’s next chapter of success.
“I see nothing but greatness for her,” she said. “She strives for the top in everything. Once she sees it, she goes after it. It’s not like, ‘Naw, I can’t do this.’ It’s always, ‘I can do this.’
“For example, something she still does, we’ll go to the library,” Tonya continued. “This young lady would get 10 books and would read all 10 books at the same time. She’s going to read one to page 119, all 10 are going to be read to page 119. The same stopping point. She’s been doing that since maybe fourth or fifth grade.”
Zachary pinpointed the greatness he sees for his daughter’s future.
“I think she’s going to be the next (Mark) Zuckerberg,” he said. “She’s going to star her own company maybe something dealing with computers. She’s going to be the CEO or president. She’s got a good heart. So if she is a CEO or president, she will make sure her people are taken care of.”
Samarra said she appreciates her parent’s outlook but will continue to use her familiar method for success.
“I don’t think I would intentionally go that path,” she said. “I would end up there. I’ve never wanted to be the CEO but I think have the capability to end up there.”
Davis said wherever she does, she wants it to be a platform to make positive change for the disenfranchised.
“I noticed in middle school, there are injustices in the world,” she said. “It personally effects me because I am a black woman. There are many differences in the way people are treated. I feel like if I can help and I am in a position to help, why shouldn’t I.”
Davis is preparing to make her speech May 29 at Mooney Boswell Field as part of the 2020 MCHS Commencement. Then it will be time to head to Starkville, Miss.
“I’m pretty excited because I’m going to college with my brother Zachary Davis Jr,” Samarra said. “I’m just hoping to get a college experience. I just want to have fun and still get my education.”
With multiple chapters left to read and to author in her personal life, Davis said she hopes the closing sentiment at MCHS left those she encountered feeling she is worthy of being the Class of 2020 Salutatorian.
“I just hope they remember as a good person,” she concluded. “Someone who was there and would listen to you. Someone who was trustworthy, you could tell them things. Someone would say, ‘she wouldn’t tell.’ I want to be an honest person in somebody’s eyes.”