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### Unleashing the Potential: The Impact of Mentorship

A remarkable mentor plays a pivotal role in guiding students through the transition from college life to a fulfilling career post-graduation, fostering both academic preparedness and professional advancement, ultimately offering a competitive edge for success.

For Alana Davis, a graduate from Virginia Tech in 2007, the individual who epitomized this role was Associate Professor of Practice Dixie Watts Dalton.

Reflecting on her mentor, Davis expressed, “Dr. Dalton significantly influenced my academic journey, steering me towards a successful career path. The profound impact a mentor can have on an individual is truly remarkable.”

Hailing from a military background, Davis traversed various locations worldwide before settling in Virginia. With a childhood aspiration to become a veterinarian, she diligently researched programs, eventually focusing on Virginia Tech.

Despite her initial inclination towards pursuing a career in veterinary medicine, Davis’ parents advised her to consider obtaining an undergraduate degree in business to support her ambition of owning a veterinary practice—an idea she initially dismissed. However, upon encountering Dalton, her perspective underwent a transformation.

Dr. Dalton introduced Davis to the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, where she could seamlessly integrate her pre-veterinary management courses with a business curriculum, offering a unique blend that aligned with her aspirations.

Dalton emphasized the gratification derived from mentoring students, stating, “Understanding students’ ambitions and assisting them in exploring diverse opportunities, be it academic, extracurricular, or career-oriented, is immensely fulfilling. Building relationships beyond the classroom and leveraging them as valuable resources is crucial for students.”

The agricultural and applied economics program not only equipped Davis with essential knowledge in economics, data analysis, and business management but also instilled in her a drive for excellence through Dalton’s mentorship.

As Davis approached her senior year, she found herself reevaluating her career path, realizing that her passion for animal husbandry and data analytics surpassed her desire to pursue veterinary medicine. Subsequently, she enrolled in the Post-baccalaureate Research and Education Program (PREP) at Virginia Tech, focusing on behavioral and biomedical sciences and engineering—an experience that kindled her interest in vaccine development, particularly virology.

Currently serving as the head of customer experience at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, Davis spearheads the development of customer-centric platforms and programs, leveraging her diverse skill set and experiences garnered at Virginia Tech.

FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, renowned for its innovation in life sciences and biotechnology, collaborates with clients to manufacture recombinant proteins, viral vaccines, and gene therapies, transcending its traditional association with cameras.

Davis attributes her professional success to the foundational knowledge and exposure gained at Virginia Tech, emphasizing the importance of embracing unconventional paths and broadening one’s horizons to foster personal and professional growth.

Dalton, witnessing Davis’s achievements, expressed her pride in the former student’s journey, highlighting the reciprocal nature of mentorship. She commended Davis’s commitment to supporting and uplifting others, underscoring the invaluable role of mentorship in shaping successful careers and fostering a culture of giving back.

Reflecting on her transformative decision to pivot from veterinary medicine, Davis acknowledged the pivotal role of mentorship in her journey, underscoring the significance of paying it forward and nurturing the next generation of professionals. Proudly identifying herself as a Hokie, Davis embodies the spirit of mentorship and continuous learning.