Markisha Mehide was in the midst of hard times when she enrolled in Prof. Emmanuel Danso’s accounting class at Palm Beach State College in 2018. “I was living in my car,” she remembers. “My kids were staying with my mom and grandma. I felt like I had really messed up my life.”
Despite those grim circumstances, Markisha – Kisha to her family and friends – kept her eye on her long-held goal of becoming an entrepreneur. She was inspired by things Prof. Danso told the class about his career path. “He worked with one of the Big 4 accounting firms, and then he opened his own practice,” she recalls. “He said all his hard work was allowing him to live the life he wanted to live.”
In addition to being motivated by Prof. Danso’s story, Kisha loved doing her accounting homework. “Making the ‘accounts payable’ and ‘accounts receivable’ entries was really cool,” she says. After earning an associate’s degree in business administration and management from PBSC, she decided to continue her studies at Florida Atlantic University as an accounting major.
From that point on, things began to fall into place for Kisha. Her mom and grandma invited her to move into their Jupiter home, where they were already caring for Kisha’s children, Makayla and Horatio. She was introduced to Dr. Kimberly Dunn, a member of the FAU accounting faculty who had just founded an organization at the university called Champions Empowering Champions, which has the mission of helping students who have experienced homelessness or foster care. Kisha was among the first FAU students to become an active participant in the program (https://empoweringchampions.org/)
“Champions did everything they could for me, from tutoring to giving me household and school supplies,” she says. “My main focus was school, and I never gave up even when it got really hard. I battled with personal shortcomings that changed my life, but I never gave up on school.”
She had a role model in her older brother, Quintan. “He was the first one in our family to get a college degree,” says Kisha, who attended his graduation ceremony when she was in fifth grade. Today Quintan is employed as a coach by the Palm Beach County School District.
Now Kisha has become a role model for her two kids, who darted about in the background as she received her bachelor’s degree in a virtual graduation ceremony on Aug. 8, a week before she celebrated her 28th birthday. She paid tribute to them in her graduation remarks, saying that even though they are only seven and five years old, they gave her the space she needed to focus on her academic work. “As soon as I opened my laptop, they’d say, ‘Quiet! Mommy’s studying!’ I was honestly surprised that they were so understanding and aware of what was going on.”
Like parents everywhere, Kisha had to home-school her daughter during the spring 2020 semester because of the pandemic. “That was really hard!” she says. “I was amazed that we (she and Makayla) passed everything!” Horatio was able to continue attending his preschool, which remained open during quarantine.
In the fall, Kisha will take a few extra courses at FAU as a non-degree student to get her certificate in public accounting. Later this year, she plans on taking the national CPA exam.
She has not given up her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. She hosts a blog called Opposite Spectrums (https://anchor.fm/oppositespectrums). “I’ve been too busy to make regular posts, but now I’d like to get back to it by interviewing entrepreneurial women,” she says. One of her objectives is to inspire other women to start their own businesses.
“It took me 10 years to get my college degree, but I did it,” Kisha says. “I believe I can do anything I set my mind to. I sincerely thank all the people who have helped me along the way, especially Dr. Dunn, Jasmine Moore of Educate Tomorrow, Ashlee Kelly of AOK Scholars, and my Champions mentor, Andrea Reino. I would not be where I am today without their support.”