Hometown: Dora, Missouri
Currently Resides: Willard, Missouri
Occupation: Interior Designer
All Degrees: AA in General Studies-Missouri State University-West Plains, BS in Housing and Interior Design- Missouri State University
“I chose Missouri State University-West Plains because I was able to commute back and forth easily and it accepted the A+ program, paying for my two-year degree.”
When Emily McKee-Dye first started classes, she was intimidated and shy. Her freshman year of college felt like she was starting over. But, she fought past her insecurities and succeeded. “Once I stepped out of my comfort zone and started opening up and meeting new people, it was like a domino effect. I found my voice and I was comfortable in my own skin,” McKee-Dye said.
Meeting and getting to know her professors made all the difference for her. They didn’t see her as just a name on a sheet and genuinely believed she could succeed in her studies. “My professors saw the effort I put in and my struggles. Many reached out and went the extra mile to help me succeed,” McKee-Dye said. “I think that was the biggest thing that spoke to me.”
As a member of the Student Government Association, the Student Ambassador program, the Welcome Week Steering Committee and a “self-proclaimed” member of the pep squad for athletic events, McKee-Dye put just as much effort into her extracurricular activities as she did her classes. This gave her the opportunity to sing the national anthem at multiple basketball games.
“Getting to be in the leadership role and help other students was very rewarding. I made some very dear friends and a lot of fun memories,” McKee-Dye said. “These experiences provided me with the confidence and leadership skills that I carried in to owning my own business.”
“Attending West Plains really helped me find the confidence that I needed for that next step.”
Though parts of her education were difficult, McKee-Dye says the experiences were necessary and integral to forming her into the successful entrepreneur she is now. She counts among her greatest achievements helping design several multi-million-dollar construction projects and owning several successful businesses with her husband.
“I hope that I have led by example and made a positive impact on my past and present hometowns,” McKee-Dye said. “For those who come from a very rural area, I hope that my actions inspire and are an example of where a great education can take you.”
As for advice, she encourages students to confront their own fears, to ask for help and build relationships with their professors. “Take this time to build your foundation and try not to stress too much about ‘the perfect plan’,” McKee-Dye warns. “Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and will enrich your life. Be bold, be brave, be the best version of you. Don’t run in the library.”