Makayla Headley finds her passion in engineering and science education

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Makayla Headley knew she wanted to go to graduate school for engineering but needed to figure out which kind of engineering to study.

She was a chemical engineering major at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), and she was also interested in bioengineering and industrial engineering.

Makayla Headley, a recent graduate of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is joining Clemson University as a Ph.D. student.

Then she took a kinetics course she enjoyed and started asking herself what was so appealing about it. Was it the professor? How about the textbook?

In her search for answers, she found engineering and science education.

“I realized that this was something I am passionate about,” Makayla said. “I found it really interesting how students learn and the best approach for them to learn and retain information and how it can help minority students stay in engineering.”

The discovery led her to Clemson University, where she is joining the Department of Engineering and Science Education as a Ph.D. student. She will be studying with Associate Professor Marisa Orr, Ph.D.

Makayla had a chance to visit campus, all expenses paid, before making her decision.

She joined a group of prospective graduate students who met with faculty, students and staff in January as part of STEM ALL-IN. A big part of the goal is to increase the number of students who are from groups underrepresented in STEM.

“When I was at Clemson, there were a lot of Black alumni who talked about how much they loved Clemson and their experience and how rewarding it was, ” Makayla recalled. “The campus was beautiful, and it really was a good time there. And talking to the grad students gave me perspective.”

Makayla enjoys rollerskating in her spare time.

Makayla will be arriving on campus with impressive credentials. She is a Meyerhoff Scholar at UMBC, a distinction that puts her in the same club as former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, lead coronavirus vaccine researcher Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett and Oliver J. Myers, Ph.D., the associate dean for diversity and inclusion in Clemson’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

Makayla also co-authored a paper that was published at the ​​2019 IEEE 14th International Conference on Nano/Micro Engineered and Molecular Systems. And she served as a senator and public relations chair for the National Society of Black Engineers.

As a Ph.D. student at Clemson, Makayla will be among the first cohort in the new Bridge to Doctorate program.


In her spare time, Makayla enjoys roller skating and sometimes likes to travel the country to try her wheels on new terrain. Soon, she will be skating in South Carolina

“I’m very interested in all the new people that I can meet and the relationships that I can build, and just all the different experiences and opportunities that come with just being in Clemson,” she said.

We’re looking forward to meeting Makayla, too. Please help us welcome her to Clemson!

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