For the past three years, Jaylen Davis has been trying to find the right balance between school and work, driving buses for the Anteater Express at the University of California Irvine while at the same time working on a degree in urban studies and a minor in social ecology.
“It was great. You get to see your fellow classmates … being able to get exposure into a successfully run transportation system, it was kind of a no-brainer to me,” Davis said.
Before walking across the stage in June, the 21-year-old South L.A. resident wanted to celebrate his big accomplishment, so he grabbed his photographer friend Zeem and went the extra mile.
With the permission of the school, Davis grabbed his cap and sash, sitting in the driver’s seat and posing on top of the UC Irvine bus.
Before he knew it, the video went viral on TikTok.
“Within the days to come, it would hundreds of thousands of views, many likes, comments. I think now its currently at 15 million views on Instagram,” he said.
Lisa Davis, Jaylen’s mother, has been overjoyed by the response.
“Tyrese Gibson posted him on his page. I was like, oh my God, this is … I mean, I love it. I love it though,” she said.
Lisa Davis said Jaylen didn’t need to work at UCI, but that’s who her son is, someone who is driven.
“Once his mind is set that he’s going to do something, he’s going to go through with it all the way, and I love that about my son,” she said.
Jaylen said it’s important to take pride in one’s accomplishments.
“Keep striving for greatness, and when you do it, celebrate it. Don’t let it be a small feat. If you have a goal and you actually achieve that goal, celebrate it,” he said.
So what’s next for Jaylen Davis? The soon-to-be grad said he’s working on his Class A license so he can drive commercial vehicles, but his ultimate goal is to improve the L.A. public transit system and its electric fleet of buses.