Faith and $500 - Part II
Below is the final of a two-part feature published last week on how K. Dominic McKenzie managed to move from Jamaica to the United States with very little to his name and a tuition of approximately $J1.6 million, but earned a bachelor's degree and several awards and recognition.
K. Dominic McKenzie did not want his adverse circumstances to derail him from pursuing his dreams. He wanted to inspire hope and make everyone who helped him along the journey proud - that was his motivation and nothing could stop him.
"Things began to turn around after I handed the situation over to God. I made a promise to Him - if He were to bring me through this degree, I would publicly share every single bit of how He blessed me. I realised too, in hindsight, had I not been open and vulnerable about my situation with the administrators at the school - they may not have been impressed to help," McKenzie told Rural Xpress.
He received several social media messages from persons seeking help on how they too could kick-start the process of studying abroad, and this was yet another reason for him to press on.
"I knew then that I owed it to my dad, my sister, my brother and all those who invested in me to make it out on top. Commitment is staying true to the mission even when everything goes awry. I knew what I wanted, I knew what it took to get here, so I was determined to work hard to maintain my place. I realised that my involvement at Oakwood would be the foundation of my success, so I pressed on," said McKenzie.
Aside from becoming a member of the world-renowned and award-winning choir, the Aeolians of Oakwood University, McKenzie was appointed Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) All-Star Ambassador to Oakwood University, a White House initiative.
"I was flown in to Washington, DC to attend the national HBCU conference, where I was blessed to witness then Vice-President Joe Biden speak to the waiting audience. That year, I also served as the chief executive officer for Three Oaks Studios, a student-led production company on the Oakwood campus. In 2016, my work with the HBCU continued after being asked to serve as director of communication for the All-Star Ambassador Alumni Association. I was named recipient of the Broadcast Journalism and Male Communication Student of the Year awards by the Oakwood University Department of Communication," said McKenzie.
He graduated with a bachelor's of arts degree in communication media: broadcast journalism cum laude and was named a 'Who's Who' among students at American Colleges and Universities' honouree and an Alpha Chi National Honor Society inductee. He is also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.
The noted accomplishments have only boosted his confidence and McKenzie's future on all counts is looking very bright - having been accepted into a master's programme at two universities and seizing a job opportunity at Starfish Media Group (owned by former CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien).
Through the inspiration of the late Gleaner correspondent Angelo Laurence, who first saw in him the potential to become a journalist, McKenzie explained that it is his wish to return to Jamaica and contribute to nation building in his field of expertise.
"Without my Jamaican upbringing, I would not know the true meaning of resilience and fortitude. For that, I am grateful. My ultimate dream is simply - to inspire change, growth and progression in the lives of my fellowmen, using whatever platforms are made available to me. I fully believe I have been called to serve in this manner. Life has taught me that it is never good to become too comfortable, for it is within that comfort that complacency and stunted growth occurs," said McKenzie.
He noted that with God as his guide, he hopes to become a household name as it relates to credible news and quality journalism.