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Former student D.D. Meakin, now studying at Seattle University, dreams of earning a doctorate and helping disadvantaged students succeed in college.
From parenting a child at a young age to running a coffee shop, D.D. Meakin has transitioned into an academic scholar after going back to school in her early forties. Since graduating from Seattle Central with an associate degree, she transferred to Seattle University (SU) on a $10,000 renewable scholarship and dreams of pursuing a doctorate degree.
Growing up, D.D. never thought college was a possibility, in part because her parents did not attend and they never encouraged her. At a time when many students start planning for college, D.D. had a child when she was only 16, which narrowed her options; her primary focus was to support her family. She married, was a stay-at-home mother and, after a divorce, she became an owner/operator in the coffee business 12 years. After D.D. remarried five years ago, her partner, along with her now-grown daughter, encouraged her to go back to school to earn her GED.
“It never occurred to me because I did not finish high school,” D.D. said. “I knew I was smart, but I was nervous to take the GED.”
D.D. began her path to a college degree by enrolling in courses at a community college in Ohio. Later, after her family relocated to Seattle, she wanted to continue her education. She chose Seattle Central because of its convenient location and long history of social justice and activism.
After a few quarters, her passion for learning grew stronger and she realized she wanted to transfer to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree. To help with the transfer application process, D.D. visited TRiO Student Support Services, a program that helps students who are the first in their family to attend college. She met with Bo Leong, a college completion coach, who encouraged D.D. to apply to SU, despite her concerns about paying for school.
Once admitted to SU, D.D. applied for the Alfie Scholarship, which provides $10,000 each year to help pay for tuition for students who have an interest in social justice. When D.D. found out she was selected for an interview, Bo helped prepared her for it by role playing and staging mock interviews. She won the scholarship because, according to the selection committee, she embodied everything they are looking for in an Alfie Scholar.
“I walked out of the interview with confidence,” D.D. said. “I wouldn’t have been in a position to go for the scholarship without TRiO’s help.”
D.D. is thriving at her new school, in large part because of the knowledge and skills she developed at Seattle Central, she says. SU’s Undergraduate Research Journal selected her research manuscript for publication, and she will speak at SU’s Accepted Transfer Student Open House. In the fall, she will represent SU on an exchange with St. Mary’s University in London while undertaking a yearlong research thesis in the Sociology Honors cohort. Eventually, D.D. plans to go further in academia by earning a doctorate in education, with a goal to work in higher education counseling.
D.D. credits Seattle Central’s faculty and staff for being supportive and working to help students like her succeed, as well as her additional renewable scholarships that has enabled her to attend SU like the Messina and Gala scholarship. One memorable faculty member who pushed her to excel is Pat Russell, an instructor in the Social and Human Services Program. Russell helped D.D. better understand what to expect once she transferred to a four-year college and encouraged her to bring her “connected knowledge” to her studies at SU.
“Even though the transfer process feels frightening and daunting, seek help at that point,” D.D. advises students. “What was so invaluable to me was knowing I had amazing people on my side.”