Who do you want to be? What legacy do you want to leave behind? These are the types of questions that drove Kelsey Davis ’19, G’20 and Kavell Brown ’16 to discover their passions. As Davis and Brown describe it, Syracuse University—inside and outside of the classroom—was a playground to explore their interests and a safe place to chase their dreams.
Davis studied television, radio and film in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and earned an M.S. in entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. She is the founder and CEO of CLLCTVE, a portfolio platform connecting creators, and was involved with Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University Libraries. Her impressive career experience, which includes producing visual content for Coca Cola, Land Rover and Puma, got the young alumna featured as a next-generation leader in Forbes 30 Under 30, Adweek and The New York Times. She was also named one of 2022’s Influential Leaders by AACSB International, the accrediting body of business schools.
Brown studied information management and technology in the School of Information Studies and launched a career in social impact and corporate responsibility. He has worked for HBO and Paramount, among other companies, and is currently with LinkedIn as the partnership manager for social impact.
The two recently returned to campus and shared what it means to them to be Orange.
How did your experience at Syracuse University prepare you for your career?
Davis: Syracuse was great because it was a playground where I was able to create the life I want. I could go to the College of Engineering and Computer Science to find developers, to the library to be in Blackstone LaunchPad, to the Newhouse School to learn about content marketing and to the Whitman School to learn about business and scaling.
All this helped me become a startup founder. As an entrepreneur, it's important to be able to create within a safe space, where you can fail, and where you can go from idea to launch seamlessly and with as much data, research, education as possible beforehand.
Brown: For me, Syracuse University is a space to dream, a space to ask who you want to be and what legacy you want to leave behind. At Syracuse University, I discovered that I could focus on social impact as a career. I was involved in diversity and inclusion initiatives and community service and used those different avenues to explore how the University impacts the neighborhood around Syracuse. I owe a lot to the staff in the Career Services office. If I had never connected with that office, I would have never found out about this career path.
Syracuse was great because it was a playground where I was able to create the life I want.—Kelsey Davis ’19, G’20
What does it mean to be Forever Orange?
Davis: Forever Orange means to be forever dedicated to the Orange family, and a lifelong commitment to showing up for the University, and helping other students, faculty members and alumni through whatever gifts and resources that you have. And it means not only giving to the Orange family, but also receiving back, too through alumni connections and collaborations.
Brown: For me, being Forever Orange means wanting to see the University and the community thrive. Whether it’s by giving time, funds or sharing experience through mentoring or speaking to students, it means being committed to Syracuse University.
Favorite ’Cuse tradition?
Davis: My favorite Syracuse tradition is Syracuse University Welcome, with the all the orientation activities. I was an orientation leader, and it was time to be the cheerleader and the person to hype the new student class. It was a cool experience to say we love this school, we want you to love it too, and to give students their first taste of the University. We’re the first people new students meet, and we share all this energy, all this love, all this Orange.
Brown: I have to say the same. To be part of the orientation activities and be an orientation leader alongside my friends was an incredible experience. We got to share all the things that we love about Syracuse with the new students. Since there were dozens of orientation leaders, new students could find someone to talk with about their interests. They could let their guard down and say this now feels like home and I am joining this new Orange family.
Syracuse University is a space to dream, a space to ask who you want to be and what legacy you want to leave behind.—Kavell Brown ’16
What advice do you have for incoming students?
Davis: My advice is don't be afraid to create the life you want. Keep creating. Go explore and chase your dreams. Try as many new things as possible and get your hands dirty. There are so many different things that you can do. Syracuse University is a research institution, and they take that seriously. This is the space where if you want to learn something, you can go to one side of the campus. If you want to try something new, you can go to another side of the campus. There are study abroad programs and immersive trips. Don’t let the idea of who you're supposed to be or what your major is dictate what you do or limit your possibilities.
Brown: My advice is to figure out what you value, the legacy you want to leave behind, and who you want to be as a person. You have this coming-of-age moment at Syracuse—explore and discover what you want to anchor you through the highs and the lows of being a student, and through life.