Kennesaw State senior succeeds as first-generation scholar leveraging opportunities

KENNESAW, Ga. | Dec 9, 2022

Kennesaw State University senior Keoni McKeever is the first-generation in his family to attend college and has made the most of his opportunities to succeed, which will culminate in earning a degree next week during Fall Commencement ceremonies.

Keoni McKeever
Keoni McKeever

Originally from East Point, Georgia, the senior civil engineering major has capitalized on several academic opportunities, including being one of the University’s first recipients of the Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship. The program provides scholarships and services to students who demonstrate a financial need and represent the first generation in their families to attend college.

“After finding out I was chosen as one of the recipients for the scholarship, I was grateful and elated,” McKeever said. “I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders, as I had financial assistance to help me pay for college. When I informed my family that I had received the scholarship, they were extremely excited.” 

As a Coca-Cola scholar, he met monthly with other recipients, something he says helped his transition into college. 

“Participating in those meetings was extremely helpful. The campus is large, and you can get thrown into it and not know if there’s anyone like you,” he said. “But through the Coca-Cola program, I was able to connect with other first-generation students who have similar experiences as me.”

The experience with the program gave McKeever the confidence to get involved in campus in other ways. He recently became a mentor for incoming first-year students and joined the American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter. His involvement with that organization helped him secure an internship at Civilogistix, a civil engineering firm in Roswell, Georgia.

After working at Civilogistix his freshman year, he then transitioned to Eberly & Associates in Atlanta, where he has accepted a full-time position once he graduates.

McKeever says that his extracurricular activities and clubs have been vital to his college experiences and encourages others to do the same.  

“I believe going through college on your own is not the best route to a successful experience,” he said. “College is a way to get out of your comfort zone and speak to people. You cannot be successful without a team of supporters.”  

McKeever has followed his own advice and is a role model for other students. 

“Keoni showed up on day one, ready to capitalize on all of the program and university resources that were available to him,” said Shae Smith, Kennesaw State’s assistant director of co-curricular program strategies in the Organizational Effectiveness, Leadership Development, and Inclusive Excellence department. “He has exemplified the actual purpose of a college education; gaining knowledge, stretching yourself and your abilities, connecting with experts and growing personally and professionally.”

Kennesaw State’s Fall Commencement ceremonies are Dec. 13, 14 and 15.

–  Ana Johnson
Photos by Matt Yung


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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit