Over the past few years, Bay College junior McKayla Saari has gone from not planning to attend college at all to being on track to graduate from Bay with degrees in environmental management and water resource management.
McKayla graduated from Negaunee High School in 2013. She was not intending to go to college at this point, but she changed her mind a few years later.
“As I got older, I just got more mature and I knew I needed to do something that would make me comfortable,” she said.
McKayla applied for classes at Northern Michigan University, but was unable to get in due to her ACT scores. As a result, she had to go to a community college for a semester. She chose to begin her college education at Bay, and she started taking classes there in the fall 2017 semester.
For her first semester at Bay, McKayla focused on nursing classes. After her final exams for the semester, she chose to stay at Bay for a while longer – but also began working on a different major entirely.
“I went home, and I thought about it more, and I decided I really didn’t care for nursing,” she said.
Instead, she decided to enter Bay’s environmental management program.
“I’ve always liked being outdoors and working with the environment,” McKayla said.
As part of this program, McKayla signed up for some water resource management-related classes. She later decided to increase her focus on this field in the hope of finding a job.
“I found out how high the hiring rates are for work with water management,” she said.
While she was nervous about the idea of taking college classes after having some difficulties in high school, McKayla said things have been going well for her at Bay.
“I have way better grades now than I did in high school,” she said.
McKayla said one major factor behind her recent academic success has been the assistance she has received from her teachers.
“They’ve been super helpful and accommodating since I’ve been here,” she said.
In the winter 2020 semester, McKayla earned her associate degree in environmental management. She is currently taking a few more classes to earn her water resource management associate degree, which she plans to complete by the end of Bay’s winter 2021 semester.
After earning her second associate degree at Bay, McKayla is aiming to take a state certification to become a wastewater operator.
“I’ll work my way up a little – learn the process more,” she said.
She then hopes to get a higher-level certification and potentially go to a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology.