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Davinia James

Women's Rights Advocate

At age 14 Davinia James realized that she was at risk of becoming another “statistic.”

Living in Jamaica, “I was surrounded by violence and poverty,” she says. “Jamaica is a very beautiful island, but like anywhere else, it has its grisly side,” she adds.

She knew that being educated was her gateway to a better life.

“After I finished high school in 2002, I came to the US to attend college and be near my mom. She was living in Silver Spring, but I stayed with relatives in Baltimore and attended community college there. I transferred to Montgomery College in 2006.”

When not advocating publicly for a global human rights organization, James teaches at the Outdoor Nursery School in Chevy Chase, Md. A strong proponent of education, she was recently featured on NBC Nightly News for collecting more than 600,000 pennies for education for girls.

James is now a preschool teacher, after having obtained a general studies degree from the College and then returning years later to complete the College’s 90-hour preschool teacher certification program.

But when she is not teaching preschool she is advocating for women’s rights through Girl Rising, the nonprofit organization that promotes education for girls in developing countries.

“Girl Rising was founded by former journalists from ABC News who wanted to help end poverty,” she says. “Their solution was education for girls. To raise awareness and enlist support, they produced the film Girl Rising. In the film they feature nine girls from nine countries who have experienced things no one should ever have to go through. Girls should not be raped, sold, entered into bonded labor, forced into marriage, forced into childbirth, and deprived of an education. As a GR ambassador, I advocate for the 66 million girls worldwide who are not in school. I show the film at schools and community events, and share my own story of how I became a Girl Rising."

James credits her time at the College for her communication skills that she uses for these advocacy efforts. “My public speaking wouldn’t be possible now without the lessons and guidance I received in Speech 101 class and my MC professor, Fritzi Bodenheimer,” she says.

Another one of her related efforts was recently featured on NBC Nightly News. James is working toward collecting $28,000 in pennies for education for girls.

“I collect pennies because people are skeptical about donating—pennies are easy to give away. Pennies are often considered worthless. It’s very sad to say, but in many parts of the world girls are viewed the same way, but pennies can change a girl’s life. My goals is to raise $28,000 and I’m still $21,000 away.” 

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