Graduate Soars Past Adversity While Inspiring Others

Posted April 16, 2021, 11:50AM
Mariana McKoy


Mariana McKoy wouldn’t let adversity and stop her from becoming the first graduate of the School of Education’s Higher Education Administration Program.

Being a first-generation college student sparked her initial interest in higher education administration.

“I want to be a resource for students with a similar background to mine to provide resources I didn’t have growing up,” McKoy said.

She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2015 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Before beginning her studies at NCCU, McKoy served as a resource case manager for Durham Public Schools. Previously, she also served as a teacher for Appletree Child Development Center and Wake County Public School System.

Less than a week before beginning her master’s program, her family became innocent victims of random gun violence. However, not one to run from challenges, McKoy managed to maintain a 4.0 grade point average throughout her time at NCCU.

As a first-generation college graduate and daughter of a young single mother, McKoy has soared high in becoming a role model for her three younger siblings.

“One of my greatest successes is being able to hear my siblings say they want to follow in my footsteps and go to college,” McKoy said.

During the coronavirus pandemic, she worked in NCCU’s Dean of Students Office as a graduate assistant and credits that experience with preparing her for a career in higher education.

“Working in the Dean of Students office was a real-life experience that taught me to be flexible, innovative and agile,” McKoy said. “I’ve learned a lot of skills that will help me in my career in higher education and in the real world.”

Upon graduation, the Raleigh, N.C. native will pursue a doctoral degree in higher education administration at the University of Southern Mississippi. She aspires to work as a dean of students in higher education.

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