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Kacheyta McClellan: Management Graduate

Image is of Kacheyta McClellan, Management Graduate
Juan Williams and Kacheyta McClellan

When Kacheyta McClellan puts his sons to bed every night, he looks into their eyes and tells them "You give me purpose. You give me focus. You are leaders, not followers." He then turns out the light and goes to study.

McClellan, a management major, is a first generation college graduate in his family. As a child, his parents stressed the importance of education. His mother pointed out smartly dressed businessmen to her young son. Jobs in business meant success and success would reap benefits. McClellan's father was a farm worker. His education came from hard work, not books. "He was doing a full-day's work as soon as he was old enough to do so. His strong oversized hands were the example he used as the alternative to an education. He did not want me to live my life as a laborer."

McClellan took his parents desire for him to be a professional seriously and made an "office" in his bedroom closet. He pushed all of the clothes to one side and wedged his desk in. "I put a small lamp on the desk and ran an extension cord out of the closet to the nearest outlet."

The road to get his college degree was not an easy one. McClellan balanced multiple jobs, night classes, and life as a young, single father. Getting a full-time job at USI gave him the benefit to finishing his degree at no cost while supporting his family. By building relationships with co-workers and professors, he found that he had a family at USI that would encourage and support him as he worked toward his goal.

"Dr. Partridge really carries the student-teacher relationship beyond the classroom. He provides students with the tools we need to be able to network with the community," says McClellan. Dr. Fertig has been preparing us for the PHR exam. He always makes himself readily available and cares that we succeed in class." McClellan acknowledges that the best thing about being a student in the College of Business is the way all the classes interconnect. "There is a purpose to everything. You don't see the big picture until you get toward the end. Then you have your 'a-ha' moment, and it is all so clear!"

He also says that USI is a great place for students. "It is not so small you can't meet interesting people, but it is not so big that you get swallowed up. In my job in the Multicultural Center, I have met author, writer, and NPR correspondent Juan Williams; former Olympian Dr. John Carlos; and coach Herman Boone who was the inspiration for the movie 'Remember the Titans'. They were featured speakers at USI's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Memorial Lunches. How lucky am I to be at a place that affords me that?"

On Mother's Day 2010, McClellan walked across the stage at Roberts Stadium to receive his degree. He realized the dream he, his sons, and his parents had for him. In turn, every night, for as long as he can, he and his sons will whisper their bed-time mantra: "You give me purpose. You give me focus. Are you followers?" he asks them. "No," they whisper. "What are you?" "Leaders," they tell him. He smiles at them and says, "That's right."

Story by Barbara Goodwin
USI Photograpy Services