DANBURY, Connecticut — Since 1903, Western Connecticut State University has provided an exemplary education and dream-building support that have given rise to many accomplished alumni. One such alumnus is Shelby C. Davis of Waterbury, who continues his successful journey and was named one of the 40 Under 40: The Class of 2022 by Connecticut Magazine. The list profiles 40 people who are considered “shooting stars” and the most influential, innovative and creative residents under age 40.
Since graduating from WCSU in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, Davis has authored two books, provided motivational and diversity training services and programs, earned his master’s degree in Community Counseling from the University of Bridgeport, served as a mental health counselor and social worker, and become a driving force of local youth theater.
Davis’ career is split into two main devotions: he is both executive director for City Youth Theater in Waterbury and a counselor for Waterbury public schools. A Waterbury native, Davis counsels at-risk students in the school system and mentors young thespians at City Youth Theater, a nonprofit for kids in grades 4-12 that “emphasizes the process of artistic collaboration and instills a focused work ethic.” An actor himself, Davis has performed in hundreds of musicals and plays, but what he finds the most rewarding experience of his theater life is working with youth. In January he announced a collaboration with Shakesperience Productions to stage his new play, “Inspired: The Tale of Christoff.”
Davis hopes to galvanize and motivate youth with this new story that reveals how a boy learns to befriend and instill values in bullies. “I wanted to create and tell a magical story that young kids can connect to and learn important values from,” said Davis. This play is his third written effort to support and motivate children and young adults through the arts, as he has written the books “Meet Wyatt Brown” and “Everything My Parents Taught Me in 6 Steps.”
“I always had a passion to help others and wanted to share it in a text, so individuals can carry it around with them,” Davis said about his reasons for writing his books.
Davis began his path to supporting others while attending Western Connecticut State University. “I was very involved on campus; I enjoyed helping other students and being involved in programming,” he said. While a student at the university, Davis was president of the Black Student Alliance and helped host WCSU’s first Diversity Conference.
“Western Connecticut State University built a foundation for my leadership,” Davis noted, and his advice for students hoping to attend the university is to “ keep going — stick to your dreams, your goals, your vision. The road may be long, but you will get there.”
Finding a way to combine his love for theater and appreciation of education, Davis founded the Shelby Davis Arts Scholarship, which in 2022 will award one scholarship to a graduating Waterbury High School senior with a history of participating in arts programs in high school and who plans to attend a two- or four-year university with a major in an arts-related field.
As for being named to the 40 Under 40 list in Connecticut Magazine, Davis said: “I am beyond grateful, surprised and motivated to continue to do the work I do every day; this award has fueled me to keep going to provide theater programming in my community, and empower and motivate each person I encounter each day.”
Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.