ATLANTA—During her senior year at Stephenson High in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Alyssa Taitt (B.S. in Economics ’21), earned several scholarships and ranked in the top 10 percent of her class. At the same time, she was temporarily without a home and filing for her independence.
A PELL grant and the Georgia HOPE Scholarship put Taitt at Georgia State University, which her sisters E’lon and Eden were attending, and in a dorm room on campus. Shortly into her first semester, she learned she was pregnant. By the fall of 2015, she was raising her new daughter and working full-time as a sales clerk at QuikTrip while continuing her studies full-time.
Four years later, Taitt was married and had a son. She continued working but dropped her studies to give more attention to her family. That didn’t last long.
“Being a stay-at-home mom was hard on me,” she said. “I missed being social and regretted not being back in school. And my HOPE was expiring in 2021.”
Taitt and her husband discussed her options, and she went back to school. She started looking outside of her nursing major, though, when her class schedule didn’t sync with her husband’s schedule. At E’lon’s urging she explored the prerequisite in economics and decided to take some classes.
“I thought the topic was very interesting,” she said. “I was taking a macro class at the same time and could see both sides. I could see myself going forward with this major.”
Taitt joined Georgia’ State’s 4+1 master’s program in economics, which is now leading her to a Ph.D. “I was interested in being a professor and could see myself teaching economics after I get my Ph.D.”
While pursuing her academic dream, she was promoted to assistant manager at QuickTrip and purchased her first home.
Taitt, now in the AYS Pipeline Mentoring Program, said her graduate mentor led her to realize she could offer similar support to other students who are struggling. She’d like to see them succeed like she has.
“I took a break from school, and many who do that don’t come back,” she said. “I encourage students to continue to push through whatever is going on in your lives and finish your program. I was a single mom, homeless for a while. No matter what you are going through, just push through it. It will all be worth it in the end.”