Michigan State University School of Social Work’s Outstanding Senior: Brianna McCray

April 9, 2024 - Brandon Drain

The Michigan State University School of Social Work is thrilled to congratulate its outstanding senior, Brianna McCray.

Brianna McCrayAs a first-generation college student, and being raised in a single-parent household in Detroit, MI, McCray’s pathway as a social worker was riddled with hardship. Her early life was spent navigating economic deprivation which led to bouts of homelessness.

However, the struggles of life would birth perseverance and a sense of duty to help others. “The lack of access to resources, for myself and those surrounding me, empowered me to want to become a social worker,” McCray explained. “I wanted to make those resources, which I hadn’t had access to, available to children, youth and families who have either faced, or are facing similar hardships -- in addition to being a source of support for those that lack one.”

McCray attributes her success and stability at MSU to key programs and mentors who have helped guide her in her collegiate journey. Being a member of the MSU FAME Program -- a resource center for foster youth alumni attending MSU as well as for youth who were in kinship care, have experienced homelessness, or are otherwise independent -- gave McCray a network of friends who share common upbringings and experiences, as well as an avid support system dedicated to her individual success. “Prior to meeting Chiquita, the director of the MSU FAME Program, I struggled to navigate resources and support as a first-generation undergraduate,” said McCray. “However, ever since I have gotten to work with Chiquita, she has helped me to navigate resources valuable to my success and well-being. As well as inspiring me to keep going and even helped me build the courage to get more involved in leadership roles!”

During her collegiate tenure, McCray has strived to empower her local community in a variety of ways. Being a member of the Phi Alpha Honor Society, the senior has facilitated and been involved in community service projects which “has allowed me to promote the furthering of social justice in the Lansing community.”

As an undergraduate research assistant with the Great First Eight, McCray has been “granted the opportunity to work in developing a curriculum for infants and toddlers in urban areas, which seeks to help teachers make adaptations to the developmental needs of children.”

Additionally, McCray has contributed to enhancing the experiences of the Black community on campus. She’s done this by becoming a contributor and editor of the MSU publication The MSU Black Book: A map to Black networks and resources at Michigan State University which centers on the Black student experience through a living archive to unearth Black existence at our predominately white institution and recognize the role community connection plays in student success.

For McCray, graduation will be a launching point in what is shaping up to be a prosperous career in social work. The senior plans on attending graduate school to pursue her master’s in social work with hopes of one day getting her doctorate as well.

McCray’s experience at MSU has “equipped me with drive, passion, patience and motivation, which has prepared me for the challenges and opportunities in the field of social work,” she explained. “MSU has encouraged me to take advantage of the once-in-a-life opportunities that I have been granted as well as allowing me to work on my leadership skills, which will be highly valued for big opportunities and my work within the field!”