October 26, 2018 4:33 pm
Even as a child, Fran Davis felt a calling in her heart to pursue a career in the Federal Bureau of Investigations. She was fascinated by the portrayal of FBI agents on television, and wanted to become the person who helps to make communities safer. “My parents allowed me to dream, but they truly thought I would grow out of those desires,” Davis admitted. “I never did.”
The Pierce College alum knew exactly what she wanted and made it her life’s mission to reach her goal of becoming a federal agent. After finishing high school, she enrolled in the criminal justice program at Pierce College, then known as Fort Steilacoom Community College. During her very first quarter, she took a class with a professor who would have a profound impact on her future career: Michele Johnson, Ph.D. Now known as Pierce College’s chancellor, Johnson spent the early part of her career teaching criminal justice.
“Professor Johnson was this young, vivacious woman who I just thought was so awesome,” Davis said. “She was such a well-educated woman, and she was also the only female instructor in a program full of men.”
Johnson made it a point to ask Davis about her ultimate career goals. Davis revealed she wanted to work as a federal agent, but that many people in her life told her it was nothing more than a pipe dream. “Michele looked at me and said ‘I believe you’ve been misinformed,’” Davis said. “She helped me research the requirements and experience I would need to become a federal agent, and I was off. Michele was the first person who told me I could do it. She was always my cheerleader, and she still is."
Davis discovered that most federal agencies required a four-year degree for most positions. After finishing her time at Pierce, she transferred to Central Washington University. She attended the extension campus located at Fort Steilacoom, making earning her bachelor’s degree that much more convenient.
After college, she spent time working as a corrections officer at McNeil Island before pursuing a career with the U.S. District Court Federal Probation and Parole Department. Davis became the first female field agent in the Western district of Washington.
It was not always easy to pursue a career in what was a male-dominated field, but she attributes much of her success to the encouragement she received from Johnson. “I really don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t met Michele,” she said. “I really needed that one person who would tell me I could do it. It shows that you can be just one person and make such a difference in someone’s life.”
Since Davis retired several years ago, she has spent her time giving back to the community in new ways. She now serves on Pierce College’s Foundation Board of Directors, and looks forward to making a difference in the lives of today’s students. “The Foundation is the ultimate place where I will be able to make a positive impact,” Davis said. “I am so grateful to be on the board and have an opportunity to give back to Pierce College.”