Former Homeless Veteran to Become First-Generation College Graduate

A veteran in Little Rock, Arkansas, is using her own experiences to encourage others to work hard and be successful.

LaKendra Mackey is a first-generation student at UA-Little Rock and a mom to six kids, and has experienced homelessness and many other challenges throughout her life, according to THV 11.

“I found myself in having obstacles that I couldn’t overcome and even though I had family and friends that were there for me, I wasn’t able to see it in myself. I had social workers that basically were able to shine a light on me and tell me I can do this,” she told the outlet.

Mackey, a social work major who will graduate this year, is being honored by the university’s #FirstGenTrojan campaign that highlights past and current first-generation students.

“I thought I was too old but here I am making A’s on the chancellors list and anyone can do it,” Mackey said of her accomplishments.

According to her LinkedIn profile, she served in the United States Navy as an Information System Tech 2nd Class before attending college.

“She is now focusing on her studies and listening to instructors and fellow students’ social work experience to gain insight into her true calling,” her profile read.

On the university’s website, Mackey described herself as having “the insatiable need to achieve greatness,” adding that “my professors encouraged me to keep up the good work and my peers cheered me on when I felt I was going down the wrong academic path.”

She hopes her children will learn from her example and work hard to achieve their dreams, no matter the difficulties they may face along the way.

“I want my kids to know that it doesn’t matter what stage you are in life, you can complete anything you put your mind to,” Mackey noted.

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