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More than 1,900 degrees were awarded at the spring 2022 commencement ceremony at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T). “This is a significant achievement,” tweeted Chancellor Harold L. Martin. “Be proud of yourselves and never forget our alma mater’s rich history,” An engineer and an educator, Martin is the first alumnus in the history of N.C. A&T to hold the position of Chancellor.

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Amaya McNealey, who plans to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology in pursuit of her Ph.D. in industrial engineering, was among the new grads who shared their inspirational stories in “Journey to the Degree at N.C. A&T.”

Originally from Tuscaloosa, AL, Amaya decided during her senior year of high school that she wanted to become an engineer after learning about lucrative career opportunities in engineering. But when she visited North Carolina A&T for the Scholars Day program, she felt a little unsure.

“At one point I started to think I wasn’t going to like it because engineering takes a lot of math and a lot of science. But it all ended up working out and I love it,” she told A&T.

Among her many other accomplishments throughout the years, she was named a Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society fellow, earned the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges Scholar designation, founded her own organization “Your Health, Our Hope” and recently became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Amaya also connected a childhood interest in the medical field to health care administration while studying industrial systems engineering (ISE). She is grateful for her A&T experience, and everything the ISE department did to help her recognize what she could accomplish. “All these opportunities and experiences helped me increase my confidence overall,” she said.

Onnr Grogan is planning to pursue a doctorate in biological systems engineering. While a biological engineering major in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, she had the daunting task of recovering from a traumatic injury.

In September 2019, Grogan was crossing a street on the way to class when a car slammed into her. The impact shattered her leg, fractured her collarbone, and left her with severe memory loss. Grogan spent months in the hospital and missed an entire year of school. Today, her body has healed, but her emotional and cognitive rehabilitation continues. The Raleigh native returned to Greensboro in fall 2020.

Back on campus, Grogan jumped right back in, working to determine the best frequency and duration for applying wastewater to the soil to filter out nitrates. Grogan also is working on a second research project for N.C. Composting Council, which awarded her a scholarship to conduct research at A&T. For this project, she’s comparing different ways to convert food waste to compost that could help schools interested in starting their own composting programs.

“She is a true example of resilience, perseverance, and never-give-up mentality,” said Aryal, an assistant professor of biological engineering. “She has already come a long way and is continuing to work on her recovery. I am proud of her accomplishments.”

Grogan’s next stop will be Virginia Tech, where she will pursue a Ph.D. in biological systems engineering starting this fall. She said she’s passionate about treating waste and composting and hopes to work in one of these fields.

“I got a lot done,” said Grogan. “Getting my degree in biological engineering from N.C. A&T is one of my biggest goals in life.”

Read more success stories here.

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