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Determination and Lessons Learned - from Both a Wise Grandmother and ODU - Lead Engineering Grad to Promising Job

For three years, visitors to Dean Oktay Baysal's office have seen the friendly, familiar face of Marcus Woody, a mechanical engineering technology major who has been helping pay for his education through his job as a student worker.

Faculty, staff and students from the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology who've gotten to know the affable 23-year-old senior likely have no idea what a significant accomplishment it is for Woody to receive his engineering degree next month. "I really didn't tell anybody," he said.

Raised by his grandmother Mary, Woody and his Aunt Margaret are the first members of their entire family to go to college. "My grandmother spent 30 years working at a furniture factory. She wanted us to have opportunities she never had," Woody said. His grandmother, he added, operated under the following motivational mantra: "You've got to better yourself in order to be something."

The lesson rubbed off on Woody and Margaret. She had started school at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Va., but when Woody moved from Martinsville to Norfolk to attend Old Dominion, she was inspired to enroll at the university as well. She studied human services counseling via distance learning, and both Woodys will receive their degrees from ODU during commencement on May 11.

"It's been great to be able to go through this experience together," Woody said.

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Published on: May 31, 2013