Previously Homeless Veteran and Mother of 6 Becomes A First-Generation College Graduate


November 24, 2020

It’s never too late to change your story!

A previously homeless veteran and mother of 6 fought against all odds to become a first-generation college graduate, Fox 5 Atlanta reports.


LaKendra Mackey served a decade in the United States Navy, earning an associate degree from the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College. After her discharge, she experienced homelessness and suffered from PTSD, all while raising her six children, one of which has special needs. Mackey’s children inspired her to go back to school and pursue a career in social work, so she could help others in need the way people had helped her. 

After her time in the Navy, Mackey moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, enrolling at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, fueled by the desire to show her children a better life. There, she discovered the University’s TRIO programs to assist first-generation students, which became a critical key to her success. 

“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. They take your small successes, and they make it into a big deal,” Mackey said.


When she graduates, Mackey hopes she can be the same help to veterans and those with disabilities. She is determined to prove that she deserves the blessings she is currently receiving.

“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. I feel that having a degree will assist me and my children in having a better quality of life,” said Mackey.

Mackey will graduate with the spring class of 2021 with her bachelor’s, beginning Little Rock’s Master of Social Work program next fall.


Congratulations, LaKendra! 

Photo Courtesy of Fox 5 Atlanta

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