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Alumni Profile

Goal: Earning a PhD

Nakiesha Ferguson

Nakeisha Ferguson, BS BA ’01, MA ’03, has earned a doctorate in advertising from the University of Texas at Austin. Photo by Nicholas Benner

The headline on Nakeisha Ferguson’s MySpace page says it all. “Is there a PhD in the house? Yes, there is — it’s official, I am Dr. Nakeisha Ferguson!” From the smile on her face to the electrically charged background, her profile bursts with satisfaction.

Ferguson earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from MU in 2001 and her master’s in advertising in 2003. From Missouri she went to the University of Texas at Austin, where she became one of the first 10 black students in the school’s history to earn a doctorate in advertising.

Now an assistant professor at St. Thomas University in Minneapolis, Ferguson returns to Mizzou whenever she can, particularly when it is to support MU’s Summer Transition Program. The two-month program, sponsored by Academic Retention Services, helps underrepresented minorities secure their college footing before officially starting classes in the fall.

“The Summer Transition Program was my first taste of college life,” Ferguson says. “The friends I made that eight weeks were invaluable. Twelve years later, I still have close relationships with people I met that summer.”

Ferguson started at Mizzou on academic probation, but with the help of the Transition Program, she was accepted into the MU Honors College at the end of her first semester, and she graduated in three-and-a-half years.

“My education became more difficult for me as it progressed," Ferguson says. "But I knew that I could take that and help the kids that would come after me.” — Robert W. Johnson