Outstanding Graduate, Fall 2020
Mary McCready pushes herself to the limit. Not only is she completing two undergraduate degrees simultaneously, McCready is doing so while working full time as a senior content developer at Microsoft. In addition, she serves as a mentor with Arizona State University’s community of transitioning military veterans. McCready says her own experience following five years in the U.S. Marine Corps makes this involvement a priority.
“Transition from active duty service to civilian life looks different for everyone,” she says. “But I don’t think it’s ever easy. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the mentors I’ve had.”
McCready discovered a love for technical work during her time in the Marines. She then began her studies with ASU as an online student since the university offered Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology-approved programs and the flexibility needed alongside her job.
McCready says her computer science coursework has been both deeply interesting and very challenging amid other demands on her time. But she says nontraditional students can handle the rigor with the support of those around them.
“We have to be dedicated and disciplined masters of time management,” McCready says. “It’s like having two full-time jobs for many years. So, finishing is a huge accomplishment, and one that wouldn’t be possible without managers at work who see education as an investment.”
She also credits the kind encouragement of her professors in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
“I really appreciate Dr. Ryan Meuth and Dr. Sarma Vrudhula for the guidance they have given me,” McCready says. “They both openly shared their own experiences, gave me options to consider and offered to help connect me with others.”
After graduation, McCready will continue in her current role at Microsoft while she pursues a master’s degree in computer science during the “+1” year of her 4+1 accelerated graduate program. When complete, McCready plans to look for opportunities in management through which she can apply her leadership skills.
Throughout it all, McCready will continue to push herself. She says, “That feeling of accomplishment when you finally overcome a significant challenge makes every struggle and frustration worth it.”