This story is part of Newsday’s 2019 Extraordinary Seniors series showcasing 16 high school students from across Long Island with the vision and determination to transform their corners of the universe — and perhaps beyond. Click here to read more.
Most people don’t become entrepreneurs in their teens. But Samiah Davis is simply not like most people.
Davis, 18, and a senior at Valley Stream Central High School, two years ago created Virtual Youth, an online business selling street-wear. She has since sold the business at a profit.
Davis is awaiting a patent for The Lunch Cub, a combination teddy bear-backpack insulated lunch box that sprang from an eighth-grade technology class project. Gearing The Lunch Cub toward kids in kindergarten through fourth grade, Davis hopes her product, for which she anticipates a September release, will promote healthy eating.
“I feel that when you’re bringing food from home, you’re bringing healthier options, as opposed to random things you’re fed at school, and the parent has more control over what you’re eating,” she said, explaining the inspiration for the product.
Crediting her mom for her entrepreneurial spirit, Davis said, “She has always inspired me to keep going and doing what I feel comfortable [doing]. Throughout her life, she’s moved around and tried different ideas, and she became a therapist and now she owns her own small clinic.”
Her mom, Yvette Davis, noted that Samiah is innately entrepreneurial, selling everything from homemade bracelets and smoothies to countless boxes of Girl Scout cookies, the latter since kindergarten.
“I think all those things are fostering her to continue with the spirit of business and wanting to build things, and I just encourage her to try and explore,” Yvette said.
Since October 2017, Samiah worked to build greenhouses at the high school that she hopes will be used to grow produce to promote healthier eating options in the community. For that project, completed in July 2018, she received the Girl Scout Gold Award, the group's highest honor. And she’s ensured the greenhouses will be maintained after she graduates by members of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and YOLO (You Only Live Once), two clubs she’s been active in.
Davis has been known to express keen empathy and altruism in situations that others may have overlooked. For instance, after a schoolwide supply drive for Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico in September 2017, she started a Toys For Tots campaign, collecting more than100 toys for children whose parents she intuited might not be able to give their kids presents that Christmas.
“I felt that it was important to give back and say, ‘Hey, Valley Stream really cares about you guys and here are some toys we can provide for you,’” Davis said.
Her favorite class this year was business law, taught by Katherine Plett, who is also the adviser to Future Business Leaders of America Club (in which Davis won the Business Plan competition for New York State in 2018) and the Mock Trial team. Plett praised Davis’ business drive, leadership skills and analytical ability. “I can attest to this from when she portrayed the role of our defense attorney in our Mock Trial here at Central,” Plett said, referring to Davis' successful representation of a person accused of first-degree murder, using forensics and psychology.
Samiah Davis’ outlook on life centers on how to improve people’s lives, said Denise Hellman, who taught her sociology two years ago.
“She made many people think about ways to live a healthier existence: in mind, body and soul,” said Hellman, adding, “The amount of effort she put into things is amazing and it has taken her on a journey of learning.”
HIGHER ED: Davis will attend Howard University and major in international business.
FRESHMAN YEAR: “I am looking forward to meeting like-minded individuals.”
IF I RULED THE WORLD “If I change anything in the world it would be how everyone eats.”