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Black Mom and Daughter Beat the Odds, Graduating Debt-Free and Sharing Success Secrets

(Raleigh, NC) Years ago, Audrey Muhammad asked a friend if she thought it was too late to go back to college and get a doctorate degree. Her friend said, "Yes, because you probably won't finish it, many over 45 don't complete it." Luckily, "She didn't listen to her friend, but decided to go to school anyway. She initially took out money from her 401 K account, but hated to lose so much money to taxes and the early withdrawal penalties, so she inquired if her employer had a tuition reimbursement program. They did, but it only reimbursed her for $2000 a year. Her daughter, on the other hand, had a full scholarship to the illustrious North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. “Why don’t you apply for a scholarship?” her daughter suggested one day. That is exactly what she decided to do.

After joining the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) and helping to promote their yearly conference in 2021, she applied for their competitive graduate scholarship and received it! Along with working a part-time job, the scholarship allowed her to pay for the final year of her doctoral program.

What led to the success of this dynamic mother and daughter team?

1. Get good grades in high school. Both the mother and daughter earned good grades in high school and received full scholarships for their undergraduate degrees. This allowed them to be debt-free early on. The mother also received a fellowship for her Master of Arts degree in English.

2. Volunteer and obtain valuable experiences (Ex. Be involved in community service, volunteer in area you are interested in etc). Most scholarships want to see your service to the community, so volunteering can be a valuable asset. Plus, it is a wonderful networking opportunity.

3. Apply for scholarships…a lot of them. Apply for as many scholarships as you can that are not affiliated with a particular school so you may use it anywhere. If it is a $100 or a $5000 scholarship, apply! Every dollar counts!

4. Attend an Early College or a community college to get college credit while in high school which will cut costs because you do not have pay for as many classes when you transfer to a university. Her daughter, Hasana, attended Wake County’s Women’s Leadership Academy and early college at Saint Augustine University. She graduated at the top of her class as the valedictorian.

5. Check and see if your employer has a tuition reimbursement program. Oftentimes, employers want to invest in their employees because it can help advance the company.

In the end, the daughter, Hasana Muhammad, graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science and the mother, Audrey Muhammad, graduated with her Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education from Wilmington University in Delaware. As a college success instructor and academic advisor, Dr. Muhammad freely shares guidance to students in the community.

Dr. Muhammad plans to tour the country and share her tips and show people “how to use your talents and tools to uplift.” For more information and to gain tips on navigating college, contact or call (336) 901-0122.


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