Marisa Davidson in black top with green field background.

Why I DEI: Marisa Davidson '24

Q&A with UC Davis student about DEI, study abroad, being an L&S ambassador lead and more

Marisa Davidson is the social media and strategic communications project lead at the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and an ambassador lead at the College of Letters and Science. She graduated from UC Davis in the winter of 2024 with dual majors in international relations and communication. 

We had a chance to sit down with Davidson to learn more about her time at UC Davis and her “Why I DEI.”

Q: I see you have two degrees. How did you decide to select those areas to study?

I am drawn to the coursework of international relations because the topics that I study, such as international politics, diplomacy, social movements and other intercultural exchanges in society, are intertwined with the world's complex and challenging issues, which I am eager to help solve. While taking international relations courses during my first year, I realized that communication is the foundation for all interactions in society, so having a solid academic background in both international relations and communication became paramount for me. 

Four people stand next to "Eye on Mrak" Egghead
Marisa Davidson (far right) stands with other members of the UC Davis Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Communications team.
Q: What have been some of your most meaningful experiences at UC Davis?

I’ve had so many wonderful experiences here at UC Davis, but three activities are particularly meaningful. 

The first is my study abroad experience in the spring of 2023. I took part in a UCEAP program in London and Paris, which was an enriching educational experience. One of the topics that I studied was art history at the Paris museums. It was a completely different learning environment compared to my lectures at UC Davis. I could analyze the art up close, adding a new dimension to my understanding of the artistic styles and trends represented in the work. The experience also has inspired my pursuit of studying abroad again. After graduation, I will be attending graduate school at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and will be completing the master's program in strategic communications and society.

The second is being an ambassador lead for the College of Letters and Science. I've been part of the ambassador program since my second year at UC Davis. It’s been a fantastic learning opportunity because I serve as a mentor to my peers and help connect students to on-campus resources. I also work on a variety of projects, like social media content, recruitment, event planning and the program's first-year seminar. I love meeting new students and sharing my experiences. As an ambassador, I've learned how to converse with and lead students from diverse backgrounds and brainstorm creative ways to engage different audiences. 

The third is having an internship at the Division of DEI. The internship experience has been incredibly valuable for my personal, academic and professional growth. I apply what I am learning in the classroom directly to the projects that I work on. In this role, I have gained transferable skills that I will use in my graduate studies and career.

Marisa Davidson stands on patio in sunshine, wearing tshirt with UC Davis DEI logo on it.
Marisa Davidson is the social media and strategic communications project lead for UC Davis DEI. In this role, she developed the idea for the "Why I DEI" series.
Q: So, how did you end up working at the UC Davis Division of DEI?

During the pandemic, I worked as a public health ambassador on campus. While in this role, I wanted to find more opportunities to engage in public health. I found an opportunity with the Division of DEI as a marketing and communications intern for the Healthy Davis Together project – a partnership between UC Davis and the city of Davis to supply testing, vaccinations, and masks and also educate the community about other resources available to them. Through this experience, I learned about the importance of producing culturally relevant communications. My team’s goal was to create inclusive and educational public health content to reach marginalized groups and vulnerable populations. In this role, I also learned about DEI communications and developed a deep passion for it. After the internship concluded, I was eager to continue working in the field, so when there was an opportunity for me to become the social media and communications assistant for DEI, I was excited to start the role. Since then, I’ve been promoted to the social media and strategic communications project lead, where I work on a variety of communications projects and lead the internship team. 

Q: What inspires you to do DEI work?

My personal background and academic and professional interests have inspired my work in DEI. 

I come from a multiracial background with Filipino and European heritage. Because of this, during my early years, it was sometimes challenging to find places where I felt like I belonged. However, when I came to UC Davis, I was drawn to the welcoming and diverse student body and the Division of DEI, which embodies, celebrates and advances the diverse environment on campus. That’s why I wanted to get an internship here. DEI is my place of belonging and an extension of home. DEI supports all students, and I am eager to continue this collective effort in my work.

DEI is also the place where I can apply what I’m learning as an international relations and communication student and do hands-on, important work that helps the UC Davis community. My long-term goal is to work at an international organization in their department of communications. In my DEI internship, I have learned how to apply the DEI lens to communications, which is an important skill that I can use after college.

diverse group of colleagues in lobby with UC Davis DEI photo backdrop behind them.
Marisa Davidson stands left of Vice Chancellor Renetta Garrison Tull and in the center of a group of colleagues from the UC Davis Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Q: What are some projects that you’ve worked on in the Division of DEI that you're particularly proud of?

I am proud of my work for the Principles of Community Week celebration at UC Davis. It was the most hands-on project I have done so far. I had to lead the communications team in developing a strategy before, during and after the event. It included social media and e-marketing, and I wrote a news article on Dr. Jann Murray-García that is featured on our website. It’s the first major campaign that I’ve done, so it was a very unique and rewarding project to be a part of.

I’m also the person behind the scenes who is producing DEI This Week. I’ve learned a lot while working on this project, including how to create an effective e-marketing piece. We have received great feedback on it, and it's now a signature piece for the division. 

Q: Now that you are about to graduate, what advice would you give to a first year at UC Davis?

The first year in college, especially at a big campus like UC Davis, may be overwhelming because there are so many great opportunities to get involved in, and you may think, "How do I navigate all this?!” So I would say, reach out to your advisors and professors who can help connect you to resources or organizations on campus. Also, visit the recruitment and retention centers and identity groups. These are great places to engage in community and get support.

Q: Why do you DEI?

I enjoy the work that I do because I see its impact in tangible ways when it’s being published on social media, e-marketing channels and the website. I also enjoy collaborating with leadership, staff and fellow interns on projects that celebrate and advance the diverse community on campus. In my role, my goal is to help address and communicate complex topics and issues that we are facing as a society and support students who have been historically marginalized in higher education. I want to use the skills that I’ve learned in the classroom and in my internships to create places and spaces that foster belonging and equity. I am committed to communicating resources that all students can use to enhance their academic experience at UC Davis. To help other students excel and give back to my community and our world—that’s what gets me really excited and why I DEI.

Marisa Davidson hugs a colleague

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