Fulbright or Full-Court Press?

One way or another, Nathan Davis was heading to Europe after graduating from Seton Hill in May 2020.

Whether he would be playing basketball for a European team or teaching English to students in Spain as a Fulbright Scholar, Davis had faith that he would find the right path.

“Whatever God’s timing is you have to trust in that and have faith it’s the right thing to do,” said Davis, a Spanish graduate and a four-year starter for the Seton Hill men’s basketball team.

Ultimately – with the Fulbright program suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic – Davis chose to sign a professional basketball contract with a German basketball team, Citybasket Recklinghausen, in June.

“It was very difficult to inform Fulbright of my decision, but the uncertainty of whether or not the program would still occur really pushed me in the basketball direction,” Davis said. “And, to be truthful, playing basketball at the professional level was at the top of my list of goals from the beginning.”

Davis, who has been in Germany since September, suffered a small injury that kept him out of action for about a month.

“I was able to rehab and get back on the court for our games in October. However, with COVID cases rising here in Germany, the league decided to shut down until mid-January. This has been disappointing and frustrating, but I understand that this is a global issue and bigger than basketball at this point in time.”

While he waits for the basketball season to start again, Davis has been adjusting well to life in Germany. “The food is good and the people are lovely,” he said. “Most people also speak English, including my coaches and teammates, so the language barrier has not been much of a problem. Gratefully, I have picked up on some German since I’ve been here.”

While he is happy with his decision to play professional basketball, Davis hopes that he will be able to participate in the Fulbright program at some point. Davis is the second Seton Hill Spanish alumnus to earn a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Grant to Spain in the last four years. Anthony Palmiscno ’16 spent the 2016-17 academic year teaching English in the country.

The English Teaching Assistant Programs place Fulbright honorees in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to local English teachers. The assistants help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S.

Davis studied abroad in Spain as part of a May term trip during his freshman year. “I loved it, and I’ve been really wanting to go back since,” he said.

Davis’ achievements in the classroom and on the basketball court are a result of his own high expectations for himself.

“I’ve never known anything different than being a student-athlete,” he said. “Hard work is something I’ve always prided myself on. No matter what the situation is you always have control over how hard you work.” 

Someday, Davis may follow his parents’ footsteps into the education field. His mother, Shelly, is a special educator and his father, Todd, is a professor at Penn State Altoona. Davis’ brother, Noah, is a Seton Hill alumnus and former teammate on the Griffins basketball team.

His student teaching experience at Greensburg Salem High School during his senior year helped Davis see his potential in building relationships with students.

“I think I could have a positive influence on kids that age,” he said.

This story originally appeared in Seton Hill’s alumni magazine, Forward. View the digital version of Forward here.