Ask TCC graduate and current employee Stephanie Davenport who at the College has impacted her life, and you’ll get a long list of names. That comes with the territory when you’ve been part of the TCC family since age 1.
“Tarrant County College provided me stability and strength since my mother started working here when I was just a baby,” says Stephanie. “It taught me a sense of community and to value both diversity and unity. TCC has helped mold me into the person I am and will forever be.”
Stephanie’s mother, Lourdes Davenport, knew TCC would change their lives from the moment they stepped on campus more than 25 years ago.
“Stephanie attended TCC’s College for Kids as a child, hung out in the Student Services office, and helped answer phones and greet people. She knew everybody on campus,” recalls Lourdes, an academic advisor and adjunct instructor at Northwest Campus. “Those experiences strengthened the college-going philosophy I was instilling at home.”
It was natural for Stephanie to enroll at TCC after she graduated from Haltom High School in 2006. The College gave her many benefits: She could stay close to home to help care for her younger brother, work in the community where she grew up, save money before transferring to a university, explore different majors, and get a strong education. Stephanie immersed herself in campus life, taking part in theater productions and joining student clubs.
“There is a lot to be said for what can be learned outside the classroom,” she explains. “Student activities give you leadership skills, professional and personal development, networking opportunities, relationship building, and more.”
Stephanie’s time as a student gave her an even deeper respect for TCC faculty and staff.
“To tell you all the TCC employees who impacted my life would be impossible,” Stephanie says. “Of course, there’s my mom. She is my hero. Dr. Paula Vastine, the retired director of Student Development Services at Northeast Campus, means the world to me. History professor Peter Hacker taught me that every student should be held to the same high standards. Government instructor Nichole Horn taught me that as a woman, a woman of color, a young person, a student, and more that I have a responsibility to my community and the people in it. Spanish professor Janet Rodriguez never stopped encouraging me. Retired Northeast Campus president Dr. Larry Darlage treated everyone with the same level of respect, and I learned from that. Dr. Murray Fortner, professor and chair of sociology, has been and continues to be an integral part of my life.”
Dr. Fortner observed Stephanie’s empathy for others while she was a student.
“Steph has such a deep concern for humankind that it gives me hope about tomorrow’s leaders,” he says. “She is intelligent, caring, and destined for even greater success.”
Stephanie’s path to success continued when she completed her TCC studies, receiving an associate degree in 2009. Stephanie went on to the University of North Texas and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science.
Her career focused on public service and helping others. In 2013, she returned to TCC – this time, on the other side of the classroom. The College hired Stephanie as an adjunct instructor for Continuing Education’s ESL classes.
“I’ve had students from Africa, Russia, China, India, Ecuador, Korea, and Mexico, people who were doctors, lawyers, stay-at-home moms and dads, engineers, teachers, refugees, public officials, and business executives,” she notes. “They are some of the most interesting people, and they teach me a lot when they share their experiences with the class.”
A year after Stephanie began teaching, she chose to give back in another way, running for public office. Haltom City voters elected her as the first Latina to ever serve on their city council. At age 25, she also became one of Haltom City’s youngest representatives. In addition, Stephanie serves as the president of the executive board of directors for Proyecto Inmigrante, a nonprofit that provides immigration counseling services.
“Stephanie is successful because she cares about the impact she has on her family, friends, and society in general. She is successful because she is a servant leader,” says Lourdes.
Education remains extremely important to Stephanie. Next year, Amberton University in Garland will award her a master’s degree in human resources training and development. She also recently joined TCC full time as the coordinator of student activities for South Campus.
“Everything I’ve done in my education and career has led me to this position,” Stephanie smiles. “I always knew I’d come back to TCC.”
The Davenport feature is the latest in a year-long series celebrating TCC’s 50th anniversary through the lives of its students. Follow the links below to enjoy previous features:
Lee Graham, Sammie Sheppard, Sultan Karriem, and Erin Casey.