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Devoted to Fast Cars, Rutgers Grad Finds her Own Route to Success

An American studies degree leads to a job writing for magazines


CarAmeriStudiesH2Stephanie Davies was a few months shy of 17 when she bought her first car - a vintage 1989 Ford Mustang.

The seemingly bold choice was in keeping with family tradition.

“I had grown up in a home surrounded by American muscle cars so my father pushed me to buy my own,” said Davies. “But the day I bought that car I never dreamed where it could take me in life.”

A few years later, she and her (second) Mustang had found their way to Rutgers, where her intense interest in high performance cars didn’t escape the notice of her professors.
They pushed her to develop her writing, research and analytical skills, and encouraged her creative flair. And, after graduating in 2013 from the School of Arts and Sciences with a degree in American studies, Davies steered her career straight into the fast-paced world of American muscle cars, where she is now an associate editor and writer at some of the premier magazines in the industry.

“The American studies program was my saving grace,” she said recently. “It refined my writing and reading skills and taught me to think about the world in ways I couldn’t even comprehend before.”

Writing for the likes of Super Chevy, Vette, and High Performance Pontiac, Davies covers everything from breaking news on the hot new Corvette Stingrays to intriguing features, like the one about the late country music legend and NASCAR competitor Marty Robbins’ long-lost 1964 Belvedere.

She reported in Mopar Muscle that the car, memorably painted purple and yellow, had been recently discovered on a farm outside Nashville. Robbins died in 1982.

“The Belvedere in question was primarily used as a ‘fun’ car which Robbins would take to the track on Saturdays before the Grand Ole Opry,” Davies wrote.

Now living in Tampa, she frequently hits the road as a roving reporter, traveling to Nashville, Las Vegas and other destinations for races, trade shows and other events. Her stories run online for a half-dozen different magazines published by Source Interlink Media, where she serves as an associate editor.

“One of my first assignments was in Kentucky at LS Fest - a huge three-day event of every kind of racing,” she said. “Then there were dyno competitions, and engine building competitions. In the meantime, everyone’s just leaving their cars out by their trailers so that everyone can walk around and see their cars.”

Davies’ former professors are proud of her for pursuing her calling, and for crashing through the gender barrier in a male-dominated field.

“Here’s this young woman who just breaks into a man’s world without any apology or anything,” said Michael Rockland. “We are so excited for her.”

Andrew Urban added that Davies “is emblematic of the diverse life experiences that Rutgers students bring to the classroom, and the intellectual vitality that these experiences can create."

Growing up in the Passaic County community of Clifton, Davies said she never considered a career in writing.

“I just wanted to get out of high school,” she said.  “And my work showed it.”

After a stint studying fashion merchandising at a small college in northern New Jersey, she concluded she needed a comprehensive liberal arts education and transferred to Rutgers.

A good omen came during her first American studies class, when professors Urban and Allan Isaac showed the class images that included a picture of a 1969 Ford Mustang.
“The exercise was meant to show how in American studies we analyze objects and cultural phenomena from multiple perspectives,” Isaac, the department chair, said recently. “The goal is for students to gain a deeper, layered, and complex understanding of the world around them.”

For Davies, sitting in the class that day, the message was clear: “This was the major for me.”

She said her professors set rigorous, demanding standards, but also nurtured students’ sense of creativity, encouraging them to develop their own ideas and interests.  

When she landed an internship at Source Interlink Media, she quickly mastered the reportorial and story-telling skills required for the job. 

“The day after I started the internship, they gave me my first feature, and I was shocked,” she said.  “They saw I was capable, and that told me I was capable.”



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