“I waited so late in life, but I’m doing it,” Mackey said. “I feel like I have to prove that I have a right to be here because of my age, my race, my gender, everything. I am showing my daughter and my sons that you shouldn’t let obstacles stop you from achieving a degree. My oldest child is 21 and is a junior while I am senior. I am trying to beat him to graduation. I feel that having a degree will assist me and my children in having a better quality of life.”
Against all odds LaKendra Mackey rewrote her story and has now become an inspiration across the globe.
LaKendra moved to Little Rock after serving ten years in the United States Navy, earning an associate degree at University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College. After being discharged, she suffered homelessness and PTSD even while raising six kids, including one with social needs.
Inspired by her kids to return to school and pursue a career in social work in order to help others, she moved to Little Rock Arkansas and enrolled in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where she discovered its TRIO programs dedicated to helping first-generation students like herself succeed.
TRIO became a critical part of helping Mackey get herself back on track.“
“They are giving me the tools to stand on my own two feet,” Mackey said. “TRIO has helped me in a lot of ways to stay afloat in my courses. The advisors let me talk to them and give me a sense of relief that it’s just not me. You just have to get over that hump. They take your small successes, and they make it into a big deal.”
Now, she nurses hopes of extending the same helping hand to fellow veterans and disabled people.
“I found that when I was at my lowest in my life that it was a social worker that assisted me and helped me get on my feet,” she said. “They were there for me more so than a family member or friend. They assisted me by making me realize that it was already within me to achieve what I wanted to do. Since I was new to Little Rock, they helped me get my bearings of where to go. I like helping people. I want to help fellow veterans and people who are disabled like my son.”
Mackey will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in May 2021, and plans to enter UA Little Rock’s Master of Social Work program next fall.