Stefan Davis is a television talk show host and producer of I Found Light, Against All Odds. I Found Light Against All Odds is a TV talk show that is designed to address social, emotional and economic issues that today’s youth are experiencing in their lives. The show also ensures that our youth and families have a safe and supportive platform to engage in conversations that will help guide them to become productive members of their communities. Stefan is also a former football player and English and History teacher in Room 136, known as “Fresh Start,” a credit recovery program which gives students who have problems with attendance, grade point average and social and behavioral needs an opportunity to bring up their grades while getting the extra support they need. Stefan is 100 Men of Color Award Recipient, as well as, being recognized by President Barack Obama for the Documentary “A Fresh Start From Darkness To Light”. Stefan was recognized as an American Graduate Champion Recipient! Growing up without his father in his life and watching kids enjoy family activities with both parents was very difficult. Stefan was mentally and physically abused by his stepfather. That being said, Davis witnessed many horrific things and hit rock bottom. Stefan’s past issues are a platform to help others.
“I stand here as a testimony of a man who has overcome much hardship, mental and physical pain and I Found Light, Against All Odds”
- Stefan, did you always know that you wanted to serve others and help today’s youth?
No. I always wanted to be a pro athlete. I was told by many people, that I was very good at every sport that I played (Football, Basketball, and Baseball). Those people never knew why I was so determined to be the best at whatever I was involved in. There were times as I got older that young children used to come to my grandmother’s door and asked me to come outside and teach them how to play basketball. At that time, I thought it was strange. Maybe that was the beginning!!!!
- Can you walk us through how you first got started in your career path?
I found myself as a father and was working with youth as a teacher and mentor in the Springfield Public Schools. I never realized my true calling in life when I started working for Westover Job Corp as a Residential Advisor. I became a mentor for young men and woman that mostly came from the same environment and or family background as me. While working there, I began speaking to youth from different inner cities and working in behavioral schools. I then went to the Center School for Crisis and Intervention and Assessment. It was there that I was given the opportunity to supervise a behavioral school for five years, which resulted in becoming a liaison in the public schools in Western Massachusetts. I went on to coach High School, College and Professional Football over the years. I changed careers and started working for the Public Schools in Springfield, Massachusetts as a paraprofessional and then became a substitute teacher. I was then asked to start a program that was for drop outs, social, emotional, behavioral teens in the high school.
- How did you handle the bumps in the road? Were there any moments when you wondered if all your hard work was worth it?
I was still hurting and angry inside, for whatever reasons. I did not care about anything or if I died or hurt anyone because the hurt and anger was taking over my mind. I started having thoughts of suicide. I hit rock bottom and did not want to be in this world anymore. I asked God to help me understand “WHY” I still had these thoughts in my mind. I felt like nothing was going right, besides working with the youth, who accepted me for who I am. Every day I went to work and spoke to the youth about real-life issues that I had seen. The students did not know, but I was talking about my own issues.
- I’m wondering if you can help us understand what you attribute your success to.
I attribute my success to today’s youth and families who are my therapy. Also, I stopped questioning why God continues to bless me in the presence of today’s youth as their words inspire me every day to continue this journey and be their voice. I’m now accepting his gift!!!
- What do teens need today more than anything else?
I believe that as adults, we forget that they are still kids and not adults. Adults should step back and realize that at the beginning stages of teen lives, they are going to have questions and show natural behaviors and make mistakes. Many of today’s youth have a multitude of issues including and not limited to suicide, drug use, gang violence, self-esteem and education. Our youth need to be heard and given a chance to express themselves without being judged because of the decisions they have made. Often many of the teens feel that they are alone. Many teens seek the needed attention and trust and look for answers anywhere that someone will listen (gangs, peer pressure, social media, music, etc.). Teens want to feel appreciated and supported by their parents and be shown that their parents truly love them, not just by saying the words “I LOVE YOU”.
- What would you tell a teen who was struggling?
I always say, “If you put your head down, the floor stops there. If you keep your head up, you can see many things in front of you. That is the vision you see in life. Also, find a person in your life that is not going to tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. It could be a teacher, neighbor or a coach. The streets do not love you, but the streets will break you.” Teens must be open to constructive criticism and take the good with the bad.
- Stefan, what else do you want to tell us about what you do and what you want to eventually be doing?
I am currently working for the Springfield Public Schools in the Fresh Start program that I helped start five years ago for at-risk youth. I would love to continue to do public speaking events to connect with at-risk and troubled youth in all communities and states. Also, I looking forward to having a National TV Talk Show that is designed to address social, emotional and economic issues that today’s youth are experiencing in their lives. The show will ensure that our youth and families have a safe and supportive platform to engage in conversations that will help guide them to become productive members of their communities.
- How can people get in touch with you if they have additional questions?
People can get in touch with me via Email: firstname.lastname@example.org , Website: ifoundlight.com, and Cell: 413-505-4629.
Thanks for your time Stefan and keep up the good work! Our youth needs more people like you!
Author and Speaker of the Granddaddy’s Secrets teen leadership book series.