UNCP employee creates a scholarship to help single moms


The oddsmakers bet against it.

And Michaela Mackley knows how difficult it can be for a single mother to return to college. The UNC Pembroke employee survived the odds to graduate in May 2002 with a degree in history.Michaela Mackley

"I know how hard it is to go back to college, especially financially," said Braves Card Manager Michaela Mackley. "We want to help those who have the fortitude to come back."

To do that, Mackley and her fiancée Jeff Jones have created the Nancy Jones-Dorothy Hupp Memorial Scholarship to contribute $250 each semester to a non-traditional female student majoring in history, taking at least three credit hours and maintaining a minimum GPA of 3.2.

The West Virginia native traveled a long and lonely road to get her degree.

"I started in college right out of high school, but got an offer of a good federal job and quit," she said. "That was a mistake."

Twenty-plus years later with the federal job behind her, Mackley faced a very different job prospects without a degree. Sixteen years ago she finished work on an associate degree from West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

History repeated itself, and she quit before obtaining a bachelor's degree. This time it was a job with the State of West Virginia.

Several life changes later, Mackley landed in North Carolina, a single mother without good job prospects. But she got a few breaks.

She got an entry-level job at UNCP, and as a UNCP employee, Mackley learned of the employee tuition waiver that allowed her to take one class free per semester.

"It's one of our benefits as a UNCP employee," Mackley said, "Everyone should take advantage of the tuition waiver if you want to further your education or not."

Slowly and painfully, taking two and sometimes three courses per semester, she reached her goal.

The scholarship is named in honor of some other women who influenced Mackely's life - her mother and her fiancée's mother.

"My own mother didn't get to finish college, and it's something she would have done if she had the option because she saw how important a good education is," Mackley said.

Today, she is working on her Master's in Pubic Administration.

"I find that my degree in history prepared me well for the challenges of graduate school," she said.

She found other advantages to graduate school.

"I love taking classes online because you work at home at your own pace," Mackley said. "But college is still hard work and requires sacrifices. My evenings are filled with homework."

The scholarship recognizes a non-traditional student (over age 25) who is willing to make sacrifices to further their education, Mackley said. They plan to fund the program indefinitely.