Alumni Spotlight: Netreia McNulty McCoy from Higher Education

McNulty McCoyNetreia McNulty McCoy, Ed.D. graduated from UNT's College of Education in August 2014. That same month, she joined The Suder Foundation as Director of Campus Relations and Programming. In this role, McNulty McCoy collaborates with coordinators at seven different universities, including University of Kentucky and Washington State University, to deliver high-impact, supportive programming for first-generation college students.

Tell us a little about yourself and where you are now.

"Right now, I think I'm in a good space in my career. Starting as a first generation college student, then going to UT Dallas, then turning around and going to North Texas to work in student affairs while pursuing on my graduate degrees. All of that has given me the opportunity to see different things, meet different people, travel, and network with the bigwigs. I think that has shaped me. So I can really appreciate every experience I have."

How did your time at UNT prepare you for working in the field of student affairs?

"The relationship with my professors. My professors didn't just teach but gave professional insight that, at first, made me first think 'Oh, I really don't need to know that,' but then it comes up and I realize 'Oh, I did need that...'"

"And the research you do in grad school, it really does help you in student affairs – when someone is like, 'Hey, I want to try this new program, has anyone else done it?' and then you have that research mindset, because you have to think, 'Alright, where do I find this information?'"

Are there any faculty members who played a role in your success?

"This is not because she was my dissertation chair, but I actually love Dr. Barbara Bush. Halfway through my master's program, she asked me, 'So, are you going to get a doctorate?' And I looked at her, 'No, why...no, no, I'm not.' And she challenged me, 'Well, why not?' Just the curiosity of her, throwing that question out and piquing my interest, and in her own way saying, 'I'm not really asking you, I'm telling you you're going to get a doctorate.'"

What challenges did you face while pursuing your degrees?

"Trying to work full time, trying to work with problems that come up, and just remembering that going after the degree is a good thing. Especially in the middle of the degree, you just wonder if it's worth it. It's that mental challenge, telling yourself that the commitment and sacrifices you are making are worth it, and will be worth it in the end."

What advice would you offer to someone seeking a career in your field?

"Make the most of your educational experience and your professional experience. What I mean is those who are in undergrad, figure out what your passion is and what drives you, and make the most of that. If you know that you like student affairs in your junior or senior year, get that experience in orientation, judicial affairs, advising, student programing, whatever experience you can get, then pick a graduate program that works for you."

What inspires you?

"Honestly, the success of others. I worked in student affairs for nine years. And when you start working with students, and you can see them growing from where they are, to where they want to be. From a naïve freshman, to this curious sophomore, to this busy junior, to this graduating senior. And to hear them saying 'Ms. Netreia, I want to do this' and being able to respond, 'Well okay, let's get it done,' is amazing. Even with the hard cases, where I have to answer, 'I know that you say you want to do this, but is this the best decision?' and help them in making that hard decision. It's not about me, it's really about them."

What do you look forward to most about the future?

"I just love to see how new programs are developing, the outreach and the trends that you are seeing in research. Where I am now, going from student affairs to non-profit but still working with education, it's given me a different view. Now I'm looking specifically at first-generation college students, how these students are adapting to campus, the support they need, the parental component that they have, the mentoring component that we have. It's looking at higher education in a way that I never thought I would have the opportunity to do."

Learn about McNulty McCoy's undergraduate academic experience through the Dallas Morning News. The newspaper chronicled her educational journey beginning in 2001 with her freshman year at the University of Texas at Dallas.

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By Jessie Laljer, UNT's College of Education Development and External Relations Office
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