Araina McCormick, Veteran and Military Spouse

“I have a lot on my plate, but FSU has been so convenient and has changed my life for the better.”

Araina McCormick

Araina McCormick Photo by Cindy Burnham

As a veteran, military spouse and a mom of three (with No. 4 on the way), Araina McCormick is a study in joy, organization and endurance. She smiles often and laughs easily. At age 32, she is on the cusp of graduating with a 3.95 GPA from Fayetteville State University with her Bachelor's degree in a program called Birth Through Kindergarten, Non-Teaching, and a Minor in Social Work.

Araina always knew that she is meant to work with children, and FSU is helping her fulfill that purpose. Her short-term goal is to secure employment with a nonprofit that advocates for children. Her long-term goal is to own "a child-care center or activity center where children and their families can enjoy quality time together."

"I believe my interest in advocating for children goes back to being adopted," says Araina, who was born in Washington, D.C., and brought home just before her first birthday by a loving couple who had fostered children for three decades. The family included two other adopted children, and they relocated to Emporia, Va.

At 17, Araina graduated from high school with honors and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Army. She soon met her future husband, Demario, at their duty station in Italy, and then they were both deployed to Afghanistan - to different locations.

Over her military career, Araina has been deployed three times while her husband has deployed four, two of which were during the births of their first two children. The oldest, a daughter, was born deaf, which has motivated Araina to work with children with disabilities, as well.

Araina's educational journey began at Fayetteville Technical College, where she earned her Associate degree in Early Childhood Education. Afterward, she deployed to Kuwait, returned and, with 14 years in the military, she got out because of service-related disabilities. She enrolled at FSU in January 2018, using the GI Bill to pay for her education and is set to graduate in May 2020.

"The professors are great," she says. "The classes aren't super-big. I feel like I'm learning a lot here."

With children 11, 5, less than a year old and a baby expected in June 2020, Araina keeps a strict schedule - one that includes rising early and making sure everyone gets off to school (the two youngest are in FSU's Early Childhood Learning Center). In the evening, she prepares dinner and they all do homework together.

"I have a lot on my plate, but FSU has been so convenient and has changed my life for the better," Araina says. "I will be the first of my immediate family to graduate from a four-year college, and I hope to instill my love for school and learning in my children - since they have witnessed the hard work I have put in to graduate and accomplish my goals."

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Story by Janet Gibson. Photography by Cindy Burnham. Graphic Design by Mariano Santillan.