MARIAN UNIVERSITY BOUND – Treanna McKinney, a senior at Arsenal Technical High School, has been awarded a full scholarship to Marian University to receive both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Her goal is to become an elementary teacher and bring her talents back to public schools. Treanna is an IPS Honors scholar who will graduate June 14 with a 4.05 GPA and Summa Cum Laude honors.
Treanna McKinney wasn’t sure of the career path she wanted to pursue, but college was the next step in her future — with Indiana University No. 1 on her list of schools.
To get there, student loans were inevitable, she thought. But that all changed during a chance meeting with Dr. Leon Jackson, director of special projects at Marian University.
Earlier this year, Dr. Jackson visited Arsenal Technical High School’s Future Center to talk to students about the educational field and the university’s Klipsch Educators College. During his presentation, he spoke directly to Treanna, a senior at Tech who will graduate with a 4.05 GPA on June 14 with Summa Cum Laude honors.
She’s one of hundreds of IPS graduating seniors being honored for achieving a 3.5 or higher GPA.
“Dr. Jackson asked me if I wanted to be a teacher, and I said no,” said the 17-year-old, smiling at the memory. “Then he said, ‘Well after my presentation, you’re going to want to be one.’ While he was going through the presentation I thought, ‘Wow, this sounds fun, but I’m not going to tell him.’”
Treanna didn’t mention her change of heart to Dr. Jackson, at least not that day. It was during an on-site visit at Marian University, months later, when she simply said to him: “I like it.”
He offered her a $4,000 scholarship on the spot. Treanna thanked him for the offer and told him she’d think about it.
“The very next day, I came into the Future Center and they told me they had a surprise for me. It was Dr. Jackson offering me a full ride to Marian University,” said Treanna, who accepted the scholarship.
The total package: $187,000 for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, including room and board, from the university. She’ll begin her freshman year August 22.
“I think (the magnitude of this scholarship) clicked for my family before it clicked for me because they understand what they go through and how much money it costs to go to college,” said Treanna. “Me, I really wasn’t thinking about it. I was just like I’m going to college and I’ll think about my debt later, but now it has clicked for me, too, and … this is a blessing.”
It’s a reward for a student who has always placed education first, a quality instilled by her mother, Quiana McKinney.
“My mom planted education into us. We sat at the table at a specific time and did our homework while she cooked dinner; we would sit and read our books like we were supposed to,” said Treanna, who attended Francis W. Parker School 56 from Grades K-2 and Rousseau McClellan School 91 from Grades 3-8. “I just feel like it (education and grades) was something that came naturally to us.”
Being at the top of her class academically was always a goal of Treanna’s, mainly because she wanted to follow in older sister LaDeja’s footsteps. Her sister, who is studying library science at Ivy Tech Community College, also graduated at the top of her class from Arsenal Tech when Treanna was a freshman.
While she understands the value of working hard academically, Treanna contends that she’s also skilled at keeping a good work-play balance.
“Oh, I have fun! You just have to split your time up,” said Treanna. “Make sure your homework and everything is done. You can’t just put all of your time into studying because it’s not going to be fun at all.”
She spends lots of time with friends, shopping and going to the movies — or doing spur-of-the-moment things around the city. She also played volleyball and tennis at Tech, served as a Future Center Ambassador, and was a member of the Student Council and the National Honor Society.
To have such a robust life, Treanna doesn’t procrastinate — unlike most teenagers.
“I like to get stuff done immediately, I don’t like procrastinating. If I start it, I have to finish it. My advice to other people is that you can’t have that mindset because something is going to get in the way, something is going to stop you and you have to be prepared for that,” she said. “Basically, you can’t break down. I’ve had a lot of breakdowns and I don’t want people to have breakdowns like I did. Just keep an open mind when new things come in.”
Christine Pounds, the College and Career Readiness coordinator at Arsenal Tech, said it’s Treanna’s maturity level and ability to switch gears that helps her succeed.
“One of the things that’s consistent among the staff here when they talk about this young lady is just the way she carries herself. She’s a seeker of knowledge, but not only that, even when we look at her age and her level of maturity, she’s always able to come back,” said Pounds, who runs the school’s Future Center. “She has that ability right now to self-regulate. And that’s so important, because sometimes things just don’t go our way. She’s able to recognize that and adjust herself to it.”
Hearing those accolades from Pounds made Treanna smile.
“It’s just like a job well done,” she said. “I’m not finished yet, but people see my growth. They see how hard I’m working and it’s just great. I love it.”
She also loves kids — specifically young children — which is why she’s planning to become a public school elementary teacher. It’s actually a profession she’s been grooming for without realizing it.
Her aunt owns a daycare, which Treanna attended as a child and has also worked at for years.
“I stayed there helping out and just grew a love for kids. I helped out almost every day, and I still do,” she said. “I love kids’ energy and when I’m with them I’m not judged. They love me for me.”
That chance meeting with Dr. Jackson, which seemed like coincidence or a lucky break, was more like kismet.