Bee Davis ’20 EMCS is a vigilante for change in the world of cybersecurity

Powered by her love for technology and the courage to embrace her true identity, Brown alumna proves that every line of code holds the potential to shape a more just and equitable world.

While her peers were skipping class for fun, Bee Davis ’20 EMCS was charting a different course. photo of Bee Davis

From a young age, Davis showed an insatiable curiosity and love for technology. The initial click started in fifth grade when she was gifted an Apple IIc computer from her mother. 

Before long, she started swapping the halls of high school for the local college campus next door, sneaking away to immerse herself in books, motivated to master a language her current curriculum didn’t offer — coding and programming.


Decoding a career path

Upon graduating with her bachelor’s, Davis landed an entry-level role in tech support at E*TRADE.

From there her programming skills didn’t stay hidden for long. “Someone noticed that I knew a lot about programming, and they offered me an opportunity to visit the headquarters in Menlo Park, California to meet the team,” she says.

That fateful break launched Davis into the heart of Silicon Valley as an early engineer at startup Pandora Music. She also held a role at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), as a senior principal of data science and data security.

However, despite the experience she amassed, she found herself consistently overlooked for management roles. It was then she noticed a stark pattern that those who advance within the tech industry commonly hold master’s degrees.

This realization led her to pursue a master’s in cybersecurity* from Brown University. She was drawn to the University’s ethos of embracing individuality and diversity of thought, which resonated deeply with Davis’s own ideals of equity and inclusivity.


The impact of a Brown education

Davis started at Brown with renewed optimism for a path to greater opportunity. 

“I hoped that a master’s degree from Brown would allow me to secure a career I loved and advance in that role,” Davis reflects. Instead, it gave her so much more. “Brown gave me the ability to think beyond a technical standpoint. I gained leadership, management, risk assessment and policy writing skills,” she says.

“ Brown gave me the ability to think beyond a technical standpoint. I gained leadership, management, risk assessment and policy writing skills. ”

Bee Davis '20 EMCS

Davis also commends Brown’s interdisciplinary curriculum as pivotal for her growth. “It’s important to expand your perspective, rather than narrow it and specialize because that’s not going to serve you very well in leadership roles.” She emphasizes, “Your education should broaden your perspective, not just sharpen it.”

As Davis neared the completion of her studies at Brown, her aspirations to lead finally became within reach. She secured a position as head of information security and was excited for this next chapter to unfold. 


Overcoming tragedy through activism

In January of 2020, as the world headed for quarantines and lockdowns, Davis’s mother was tragically killed in a car accident. In the wake of her death, Davis had a wake-up call. 

Feeling weighed by the fragility of life, she decided to no longer hide in a body that never felt like her own. So, she began her transition journey as a transgender woman.

The expertise of her skills couldn’t shield Davis from the discrimination that came with staying true to her identity, ultimately, leading to the loss of her job. “I never thought transitioning would take away my career,” she says with tears welled up.

But Davis, armed with her Ivy League education, didn’t lose faith. Instead, she channeled her passion and coding abilities into solving issues close to her heart, emerging as a technological vigilante.

Among her many innovations, Davis developed an algorithm to improve TSA scanners, reducing harassment and embarrassment at the airport for trans individuals. Additionally, she created systems to identify intoxicated rideshare drivers, seeking justice for her brother's sudden death. And she crafted a chatbot to help women escape domestic violence, drawing from her own experiences as a survivor.

“I know I can use my skills to make a difference,” notes Davis. “I choose not to be a victim, but apply my education to leverage technology for social good, address systemic issues and enhance the lives of marginalized communities, including my own.”

As for what’s next for Davis, she recently rejoined NASA as a principal infrastructure engineer working at the Johnson Space Center in the Mission Control Center.

"Using my coding skills to drive positive change will always remain a passion," she adds with a smile.

In the end, it’s not just Davis's mastery over machines or her accolades that define her. It’s her unwavering belief that within the streams of 1’s and 0’s lies the power to shape a more just and equitable world — a belief that she is determined to accomplish, one line of code at a time.


*Brown University's master's in cybersecurity was initially launched as an executive master of cybersecurity (EMCS) for mid-to senior-level professionals. The program has since evolved to an online master's in cybersecurity, expanding accessibility to a wider demographic of learners.

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