When Rachel Davis was just 12 years old, her childhood home burned down. Little did she know at the time how much this event would inspire her in the coming years.
Since the house fire, Rachel has become a nationally certified volunteer fire fighter and EMT. She also decided to continue her work in the field with research on flame retardant plastics in the laboratory. Her family’s tragic experience inspired Rachel to work hard on polymer research, and she developed a new flame retardant biodegradable plastic that is currently under review for a patent.
At MIT, Rachel studies Material Science and Engineering and hopes to work as an engineering consultant or a researcher upon graduation. She has interned at Formlabs Inc. and TMK IPSCO Research and Development Center, and she has done research at the Novartis/MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing as well as Stony Brook University. After she was named a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search, Rachel even got to meet President Obama!
Despite the hardships she has been through, Rachel is improving her community with her work as a volunteer fire fighter and EMT, and she is engineering new materials for our future.
Name: Rachel Davis
College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Majors: Materials Science & Engineering
Graduation Year: 2016
Hometown: Saint James, NY
Twitter Handle: @RchelDavis
Instagram Handle: @RchelDavis
Her Campus: What are you working on right now?
Rachel Davis: Right now, I am working at a 3D printing start-up in Somerville, Massachusetts. The start-up is called Formlabs. I am a part of the materials team, and I love it. My favorite thing to print is 3D-printed plastic cats. As a part of the materials team, I work with photopolymers to create really awesome materials that will make our customers really happy. I also just took a journalism class at Harvard, which will help me get a minor in writing at MIT.
HC: You’ve experienced your fair share of tragedy, yet you keep moving forward. How do you maintain positivity, and how can others follow your lead?
RD: It is really difficult to maintain positivity sometimes. I have definitely gone through dark periods of time. I find that the best way to keep pushing forward and staying positive is to do things that make me happy, and also to constantly do things that help people.
I love plastics. I really like the way you can change them and make them better through simple or complex methods. I like playing with polymers and making them do cool things. It makes me really happy, and I’m so grateful that I’ve found something that makes me feel this way.
I worked really hard in high school, and now in college, because it makes me feel really good to know that I have tried my hardest and done my absolute best and that I am working towards something that I am really passionate about. I really recommend that others do the same, no matter how challenging it may be. Find your passion, and do everything you can to make it a giant part of your life.
HC: What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
RD: My greatest achievement is getting to meet President Obama after I placed in the Intel Science Talent Search my senior year of high school. Also, getting into MIT was a huge achievement, and I am so proud of myself for accomplishing that.
HC: In your application for the 22 Under 22 Most Inspiring College Women competition, you wrote the phrase “People before problem sets.” What exactly does this mean to you?
RD: “People before problem sets” means that I think it is more important to live your life than to worry endlessly about one silly problem set that you won’t remember in two years. I do not remember problem set number four from differential equations freshman year, but I do remember that I cried over it and missed out on spending time with friends because of it. It is important to put time aside for the people that matter in your life, although it seems difficult at times, and for other people. It’s not worth crying over a problem set.
HC: What advice do you have for other ambitious collegiettes with a goal/dream?
RD: Never give up. Life will throw some pretty terrible things at you, but also some incredibly wonderful things. Keep pushing forward towards what makes you happy.
Alicia serves as an Assistant Editor for Her Campus. She graduated from Penn State in 2015 with degrees in Journalism and Spanish and a minor in International Studies. Before she joined HC full-time, Alicia worked for the editorial team as an intern, editor of the Her Story section, editor of the Career section, standard content writer, viral content writer, and News Blogger. When she's not busy writing or editing, Alicia enjoys attempting to become a yogi, cooking, practicing her wine tasting skills, hanging out with her Friends (you know—Chandler, Monica, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe & Joey?) and city-hopping her way across the globe. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @aliciarthomas.