Betsy Battle Davis

Betsy Battle Davis - On her childhood, education, and career with the WIC program

Betsy Battle Davis - On her childhood, education, and career with the WIC program

This interview is part of a project done in fall 2015 and spring 2016, conducted by SOHP undergraduate interns with members of the Black Pioneers, the first African American students to attend and integrate UNC-Chapel Hill from 1952 to 1972. Betsy Davis begins the interview by reflecting on her childhood. She was born and raised in Chapel Hill; she has two older sisters and a younger brother. Mrs. Davis attended Lincoln Elementary School and Lincoln High School. During her time at Lincoln High School, she played in the band and was a statistician for the basketball team. She was also interested in home economics, which is one of the reasons that she majored in Foods and Nutrition when she went to Hampton Institute. Mrs. Davis reflects on her time spent a Hampton Institute, she chose to apply to Hampton, because she did not want to go to North Carolina Central University and follow her sister’s example. She talks about her favorite classes, her relationships with her professors, and what emotions she felt as graduation approached. After she graduated from Hampton, she was required to complete a one-year internship in order to become a member of the American Dietetic Association. She completed this internship at Cooke County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, and at that time she was the only nutrition student to do an internship that year. Mrs. Davis came back to work at the UNC hospital as a therapeutic dietician, before she decided to go to UNC’s School of Public Health. She describes the program and the classes that she was required to take, how she prepared for class, and how she balanced having a family and going to graduate school at the same time. Mrs. Davis reflects on the racial problems that were happening at the school of public health and in the larger Chapel Hill area, she retells a story that one of her professors told her about the UNC hospital. She also reflects on the challenges she faced and her greatest accomplishment while attending the School of Public Health. After graduating, she worked as a nutrition consultant before she became the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program Manager for the Lincoln Community Health Center, which was the second health center to get a WIC program. Mrs. Davis describes what she did as the WIC Program Manager; she enrolled people into the program and taught nutrition education classes, which were required for certification. In order to be enrolled in WIC children had to be under the age of five and have nutritional risk factors. Every six months the clients had to be reassessed, Mrs. Davis describes some of the challenges she faced during the reassessment process. She reflects on the relationships she had with her colleagues, memorable experiences working at the health center, Davis 3 Interview number N-0044 from the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) at The Southern Historical Collection, The Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, UNC-Chapel Hill. and times when students from the school of public health would come visit the center. This interview concludes with Mrs. Davis giving lasting words of advice.
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