Shaquayah McKenzie – Morgan State University
Class of 2014 | Field: Education
Ebullient and innovative urban millennial leader. As an Educator, Civic Engagement Coordinator and engaging public servant, she upholds the expectation that one must be the change they look to see, with great integrity.
Born and raised in Hartford, CT, Shaquayah cultivated an impeccable ethic for success at a very young age. Indefinitely influenced by her Jamaican heritage and watching her family strive for educational and economic stability, her understanding of the importance of setting high expectations and overcoming obstacles with fortitude allowed her to mature very quickly. She also found a natural grace in leadership through fine arts and community involvement. Throughout her youth, she participated in various performing arts organizations, scholarship pageants and apprenticeship programs. Some significant experiences from her youth include completing the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s Neighborhood Studios Arts Apprentice program with The Artists’ Collective, winning Ms. Caribbean-American Teen 2008, and being a premier youth leader in the Catholic Charities’ sponsored group called “The Gifted Ones”, where she mastered hip-hop & african dance choreography, poetry and stepping. These experiences nurtured her passion for youth involvement, character development and community engagement.
In 2009, Shaquayah enrolled at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. Throughout her matriculation, she excelled in academia, joining an honor society and making the Dean’s list several times, all while consistently working 3 jobs to support herself. Moreover, she established a unique precedent for student leadership. She held several roles on campus including Student Government President, National Pan-Hellenic Council President and President of the Alpha Gamma chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Her stellar leadership resulted in her to being honored as the first “Leader of the Year” under the Office of Student Activities. She was also nominated for the 2014 White House HBCU All Stars Competition. When she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English & Philosophy in May 2014, she was awarded the President’s Second Mile Award for her dedication to student life. The day after graduation, she participated in a 10-day Campus Allies trip to Israel with 39 other national high-achieving college students and graduates, and established relationships with some of the country’s top leaders. To date, she continuously strives to make global bonds.
Currently, Shaquayah serves as the After-School Program Coordinator for the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, and is a 2015 Teach for America Baltimore Corps member. This fall she will begin graduate studies in Secondary Education at Johns Hopkins University and will be teaching 8th grade English. Concurrently, she continues to grow and engage in activism and leadership in the community while serving as a Peace Coordinator for Peace by Piece, a national civic group with branches in Baltimore, Atlanta, South Carolina and Houston. Her life’s guiding mantra: “Perfection is not found in everything going right, but rather accepting what’s happening moment to moment. Change is acceptance that has transformed into action.”