Throughout the 2018-19 academic year, College Possible Philadelphia is profiling four students thanks to a grant awarded by NRG Gives, a charitable-giving program sponsored by the NRG Retail Charitable Foundation. The grant awarded by NRG Gives will support more students in the greater Philadelphia area get to and persist through to college graduation.
Preparing for her senior year at Penn State Harrisburg, West Philadelphia native Kheyana Murray is excited for the opportunities that lie ahead after graduation. A 2016 graduate and valedictorian of Parkway Center City Middle College, she is making the most of her college experience. Kheyana is the president of the Dancing Lionettes and is a server at Stacks Market on campus. She will be spending her summer working as a payroll assistant for the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation.
What does it mean to be a first-generation college student?
All throughout middle school and high school I had key mentors encouraging myself and other young students to go off to college to expand their opportunities to be successful. As a preteen, I had the mindset that I wanted a college degree. I always knew college was where I wanted to be. I wanted the entire college experience, such as moving away from home, learning more about myself as an individual, experiencing new people and being solely independent while striving for a degree in business management. For me, college was just one of my long-term goals. For my family, it meant exploring this opportunity for the first time. I have a very supportive family who encouraged me to strive for greatness no matter what that entailed. For me, greatness was college.
What are you majoring in and what made you interested in that major?
I am majoring in business management with a concurrent degree in marketing. My mother and grandmother always inspired me. It started out in the kitchen. Both my mother and grandmother are great cooks and that alone inspired me to become a great cook. All throughout middle school and early high school I was determined to be a chef. I knew that I was going to study culinary arts once I go to college. In fact, for my ninth grade year of high school I went to a trade school and one of the trades was culinary arts. Unfortunately, that high school was shut down by low funding, so I transferred to Parkway Center City. As my high school career continued, I realized that I was not fit for the kitchen and so I started to think about ways I could be involved with food while not actually making it. I was in many programs all throughout high school and they all taught me key lessons such as the importance of leadership and team building. I developed a love for leading people and guiding people and having an influence on their lives, so I wanted to combine my love for food, and serving and leading people. I decided to go to school for business management so that I can have my own catering business
How has College Possible and your coaches support your college journey, both in high school and throughout college?
College Possible has pushed me to aim for the highest score possible on the SAT and has tested my perseverance when it comes to schoolwork. College Possible has also been that support system alongside my family. The mentors and coaches are always positive. My coaches have always checked on me and gave me a sense of stability knowing that I have someone outside of my friends and family to lean on when needed. College Possible is a great resource and students often forget how powerful this program could be for their personal success. I utilize College Possible as much as needed, and I’ll continue to support the program after I graduate college in May 2020.
For the last two years, you have been a presenter at College Possible Philadelphia’s end-of-the-year student celebration, Launch! What has the experience been like and why have you participated?
Being able to share my story with high school students has been an amazing experience. I love sharing my story with them. Sometimes it’s easier to connect with someone closer to your age when going through phases such as transitioning into college. I chose to take this opportunity because I knew it would be very eye-opening for me and the listeners. I am always interested in advice from people who have gone through what I am going to go through so being that piece of the puzzle for younger students is such a huge satisfaction. I feel like I have a purpose when I am sharing my college experiences to younger students, especially from my hometown of Philadelphia. It’s imperative for me to share my story because I could easily be that last source of encouragement for them making a life changing decision.
Do you have a specific goal that you are working to accomplish and what steps are you taking to make it possible?
My life goal is to open a catering business. I would love to leave an impact on my community and what’s a better way to bring people together than food? I have reached out to a few restaurants with catering to see if they had any intern opportunities. I am also currently networking with people who have a great deal of knowledge in the catering industry. I plan on working or interning in a catering department so that I can have that experience under my belt when I take the first step in opening my own catering business.
By Ian Reitz