Whether playing football as a defensive tackle in high school or bringing rock ‘n’ rollers on stage to get the word out about personal finance, Jennifer Davidson does not place limits on what she can achieve. A leader in economic education at Nebraska, she lives life with her grandmother’s words echoing as a reminder, “If there’s a will, there’s a way. Figure it out. You are your own limiting factor. Dream big, go big!”
An assistant professor of practice in economics at the College of Business, and president of the Nebraska Council on Economic Education (NCEE), Davidson’s love for economics has been there since the beginning. She frequently recounts to students her firsthand experiences growing up on both sides of the financial scale, poor and rich. Seeing the disparity between the two lifestyles ignited a passion in Davidson not only to become economically wiser, but also to spread the message of personal financial responsibility.
“It’s not about your income; it’s about the choices you make. People are not taught financial education and it is pervasive. This area infects the rest of your life. If you don’t have a handle on your own finances, it could be disastrous,” she proclaimed.
However, being a professor in economics did not used to be the dream for Davidson. Post-graduation, she sought to attend law school, while her husband desired to pursue a Ph.D. in economics. The couple wanted to attend the same university, thus the two applied to the same six schools, sold their home in Bakersfield, California, and awaited to hear where they would be moving. Life threw them for a curve, requiring Davidson to use her passion for economics to work out a solution.
“My husband got into three of the programs we applied to and I was accepted into the other three. We had to decide right there who gets to go, and where we were moving. We thought, ‘Let’s just decide where we want to live, look at different cities across the U.S. and just move,’” she explained. “Being the econ nerds we are, we looked at cost of living and primary public school systems. The city had to have the university and law school, and roughly a population of about 250,000. Lincoln ended up fitting that bill beautifully.”
Finding a home in Lincoln, Davidson joined the college in 2008 and forwent the law school path, as she discovered a new outlet for her passions at Nebraska Business. Her desire to provide the best education she could led her to earn a Master of Arts in Education with an Economic Focus in 2010. Whether working with rock stars who specialize in educating students about the importance of saving or going on television to present financial advice to mothers across the state, Davidson sets no boundaries on who she could teach. Her tenacious spirit drives her to find new and unique ways to educate on economics and financial literacyand work with Nebraska’s school teachers to impact young people before they make unwise financial decisions.
“You need to get students excited about their own education. If you make it fun, they are going to buy in and listen. It is way cooler to have a rock band tell students the importance of saving than even me,” she said.
Now, with more than a decade at the college, Davidson’s teachings resonate with many people, in and out of the classroom, even reaching within her own home, with her daughter currently majoring in economics. She finds joy knowing people can utilize what she teaches with them beyond college and their careers, so they too can “dream big, go big.”
“It’s so inspiring to have my daughter major in a subject I am so passionate about because economics is applicable to so much in our daily lives. Everyone needs a basic understanding of how it affects nearly everything,” she explained. “In order to be successful in life, you need that understanding of economics and personal finance so you can avoid the struggle and live out your dreams.”