N.C. Central senior Makala McGowan (left) continues to make the most of her college experience and push through her final semester by following the wishes of her mother, Mrs. McGowan (right), who was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2013. Photo Courtesy: Makala McGowan

Graduating senior reflects on pushing through college in spite of mother’s health condition


The bond between a mother and daughter is truly special. From childhood to adulthood, a daughter wants everything they can to make their mother proud. When N.C. Central senior Makala McGowan’s mother grew sick, their bond not only grew stronger but she pushed her to finish her education.

From Charlotte, NC, McGowan enrolled at NCCU in the fall of 2016 after graduating early from Phillip O’Berry Academy of Technology.

As a nursing major, things were going well in her first semester of freshman year but a decline in her mother’s health would change her college experience.

McGowan’s mother was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2013 and was able to maintain it until it became more serious in late 2016.

When Makala returned home for winter break, she was made aware that her mother’s health was steadily declining.

“Tired” was the word Makala used to describe how she felt with the new worry that was added to her plate.

“I contemplated leaving school and staying home to take care of my mother,” explained Makala. “But before I could officially make that decision, my mother challenged me.”

 “Are you quitting on me?” said Mrs. McGowan. Her mother’s question made her put the future in perspective.

“I am an emotional person so her question made me very emotional,” Makala said. “She made me realize that quitting is not an option and struggles are a part of success.”

Makala would continue taking care of her mom during the break and ultimately return to school that following January with a new change in mind.

“When her health went downhill. I decided I wouldn’t have the right emotions to be in the nursing field,” said McGowan. “This ultimately led me to changing my major.”

Makala’s passion for helping kids led her to majoring in family consumer science with a concentration in child development and family relations.

“I still wanted to be able to help families besides just mine,” she said. “ With my major I am able to do this by not only taking care of children but building a strong relationship with their family.”

McGowan plans to graduate this December, continuing working at her current job, The Goddard School of Chapel Hill, and continue growing in her field.

As for her mother, Makala says that her mother is doing “ a lot better” after having a procedure done to her heart in 2019.

“My mom is my motivation,” proudly stated Makala. “I just want to make her proud at the end of the day.”

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