Campus News

My MEC Story: Embracing risk-taking in the face of judgment

Editor’s note: My MEC Story is an occasional series featuring students and alumni at Medgar Evers College with unique stories — and a willingness to tell them.



By Sheray Goday |

People see me around campus and witness a smile — you might even hear me ask if people are OK all the time. In reality, I’m a social worker who needs a social worker. 

Hello, my name is Sheray Goday and I am a 27-year-old Brooklyn-born-and-raised student at Medgar Evers College.

It may sound cliche and funny to some, but if you ask any future social worker if they practice what they preach, nine times out of 10, they don’t. 

Though I look like I have it all together — and though I currently am working toward it — I’m struggling just as much as you are. 

And I’m not just talking financially, I’m talking about mentally.

I still struggle with postpartum depression after having my second child.

I also struggle financially. 

I also am going through a breakup.

I also stress over school.

All of this while I’m trying to be the best mom; going through housing issues; feeling like I’m not doing enough; feeling like I’m doing too much; trying to remain humble and focused; trying to be selfish with myself; and trying to heal myself of all things internally.

ALL while being judged. 

Though I am getting it all together, I am still going through hard times — just like you.


Life changes quickly

“The 2014-2015 school year is going to be fun and exciting,” I thought during the summer of 2014. 

I was officially going to be a high school senior, preparing to possibly go away to Syracuse University and become an actual “adult.” Nothing was going to stop me from going away to college and accomplishing all my dreams and aspirations, I thought. 

I was always an exceptional student, usually being looked at funny for saying that I liked school. But I never cared because I knew I wanted to be somebody and go somewhere — and school was needed for me to do that. 

Fast forward to October, just two months before Christmas break, my whole life changed — I was pregnant, and not only was I just pregnant (and did not know), but I was just a few months shy of giving birth. I went from my only worry being living away from my mom for the first time and hoping to get into my No. 1 college choice, to now planning for my first child, who I gave birth to in April 2015. 

Good thing I was that exceptional student I stated earlier, because I was able to finish school literally a week before giving birth — not having to return until senior prom. (I was crowned prom queen!)

So now here I was, a mom at 18 years old, and changing my plans from an upstate college to a close commuter college at Medgar Evers — which ultimately did not work out because I was in the hospital at the same time I was supposed to be taking the assessment test. 

After that disappointing call, I made a decision that I felt was best for me and my daughter — finding a job and focusing on making money for us. Having my daughter made me realize that time waits for no one and I needed to decide what my plan B was ASAP. Savannah made me grow up in a way I never saw coming. She helped me become the woman I am today. So then I had to think,

“What is important right now?”

Providing for my daughter, that’s what! I decided to make a pact with my inner self that when she began school, I would apply for college again. Four years later in 2019, I applied for and was accepted into Medgar Evers College (again!). 

All I thought was “I’m going to be older than everybody!” since I would be a non-traditional student not coming into college right after high school. 

I was nervous, believe it or not. 

But then I had to realize, “what are you scared about? Just do it!”

And so I did. 

Making this decision would start my journey, and my goals and childhood dreams would ultimately start to come back around full circle.


Back to chasing my dream

My college journey may have begun in 2019, but this was definitely always a childhood dream to go to college. My mother, being a single mom, instilled in me the importance of chasing my dreams, never giving up, and keeping a level of responsibility with anything that I did. 

There was no quitting. 

So, I learned to always think things through before putting the action behind it. Without my mother’s support, even up until this very moment when writing my story, I honestly don’t know what road I would be taking in my journey thus far. 

Before beginning my journey at MEC, I was struggling with my career choice and if I was picking the right one. For a long time, I thought Psychology was my only option when it came to helping people reach their highest potential and advocating for them. Anytime I would ask people’s opinions about social work, I would hear the typical, 

“So you want to take people’s kids?” 

“Don’t do social work, they don’t make ANY money”

“You’re going to be at a desk your whole career!”

So, should I listen to those people and go along with Psychology because it seemed easier?

Or doing my own research, asking the right people, and believing in myself? 

Of course, I chose the most important thing: I decided not to listen to those people. 

Why? They were not in my shoes, so how would they know how to really give me accurate advice? How could anyone who hasn’t even done what I want to do ever tell me how to make decisions regarding my future? 

I felt empowered and motivated in myself, especially when explaining to people all about the information I learned. 

Doing all my research and talking to social workers around me made me realize that I might have just been a social worker from birth. I leaped into action and came into MEC knowing how I wanted to spend my four (now five) years: in the social work community. 

In the beginning, I will say that I did not involve myself in campus life. My routine was the same every day. Go to classes in the morning, leave right after my last class in the afternoon, go to work until nighttime, pick up my daughter from my mother’s house, go home to my house, and repeat. 

I did not have any time for anything else. 

But now thinking back, I didn’t think I could do it. My job took away most of my free time and I had my daughter to think about. 

I knew this was something I had to change, but what I did not know was how the COVID-19 pandemic would ultimately change my life in different ways.


Hitting the pause button

Around the time I became pregnant with my son in 2021, just shy of the world “opening back up” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I kind of felt the difference versus the pregnancy I had with my daughter, which led me to know for a fact that I was going to have a son this time around. I was excited! 

Because I am a very intuitive person… I just felt it. 

But the pregnancy was HARD. I was sick, and because money wasn’t too much of an issue at that time, I decided to finally resign from my job of being a direct care professional for differently abled children of six years (amongst other reasons). Shortly after I resigned, I began to struggle financially — I was just stressed all across the board. I made sure to keep a level of sanity with myself, especially for my unborn child, scared that I would be the one to harm him with my emotional stress. Because I was going through a tough pregnancy and NOW I was struggling financially, I then decided to take a year off from college. 

I realized that I was making big and risky decisions that could affect my life and my family, but I needed to think about my mental, physical, and emotional health FIRST. All I knew was work! 

“You’ve been working since you were 14 years old, why would you just quit!” 

There were moments when I was ashamed of myself during that time… I thought I made the wrong decision because I had a tendency of focusing on what other people would think about me or my decisions. 

I did not realize that these factors were jeopardizing my mental health, because I always saw myself as a strong independent woman — I figured I could handle it.

But it turned out that I was struggling mentally more than I thought I was, being diagnosed with postpartum depression right after my son was born. I realized that I needed to change… my son gave me the motivation I needed (I even began my candle business around this time!) and wouldn’t even realize it. 

It was time for me to change for myself. It was time.

Once I took my year off of college, it was time to go back.

But this time, I had more time to spare, just focusing on school. 

I decided to find different ways to mark my place at MEC, so my first mission was to join the Social Work Club (ABSW). Since that semester was slowly coming to an end, it was time for elections to join the E-Board. Not really knowing anyone in the club, I still went to meetings and events, thus being inspired by the president at the time, to run for a position. 

At first, I almost said no. 

Then I had to think about the outcomes of my decisions and how saying no because I was scared, would affect my future. So I just jumped out and said “I’ll run for vice president!” I got the position shortly after, marking a place in the social work community at MEC, crossing off an internal goal I set within myself. 

Now today, I am looking forward to all the success and overcoming all challenges in my senior year as president of the Social Work Club. 


Back and better than ever . . .

“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

I was once asked this question during a marketing mastery webinar and for a long time, I could not come up with a response. It was too deep for me because I knew the answer, I just had to face the music and be truthful with myself. 

If I knew I could not fail, I would have taken more risks. 

Because of not taking risks, I missed out on so many exciting opportunities, even in my younger years.

Taking risks can offer new and amazing opportunities, which opened doors for me in my newly founded beginnings in entrepreneurship.

The SEEK program, which has been an extraordinarily supportive team (who also helped me with gaining entrepreneurial experience by going to the National Association of Black Accountants convention of summer 2023), engulfed me with so much praise and motivation when I talked about having a candle business that I wanted to expand on. 

During a college tabling event I volunteered for, I unexpectedly met and networked with who I now know was the lead instructor of the “Summer 2023 BankUnited/MEC Entrepreneurship Train-the-Trainer Program.” 

I was then accepted into the program a while after, which allowed me to learn new skills, learn new ways to enhance my business and network–something I’ve always wanted to do, but did not take the risk in the past.

I wanted (and needed) extra income for myself and my family. I had a list of possible business ventures that I may have wanted to pursue, but candle-making had me excited, so I chose to work on that. Because of those opportunities, I have met amazing friends with like-minded goals and aspirations, I have networked with and met big-profile professionals, and I have expanded my place in the business world including being a part of the first-ever club on campus: The Entrepreneurship & Technology Association.

I also joined the Brooklyn Recovery Corps in the Spring of 2024, adding a professional internship paid for by MEC — something I would have never done as a freshman. Now I’ve got professional connections that will continue into the summer and the 2024-25 school year that I’ll be able to leverage as I enter my final year of undergrad.

Had anyone sat me down and told me this would be my life, I would have looked at you crazy. Because, not chill and shy, Sheray! Speaking at panels? Being a mentor? Opening businesses? Professional internships? Like, huh? 

But honestly, I always knew I would do something extraordinary with my life because I was destined to be here. I am a rainbow baby after all: something beautiful after a dark time. 

One of my biggest aspirations in life is to make sure the people I love around me are always okay. 

All I want to do is inspire people, for them to know that it doesn’t matter where your journey starts or how long it takes to start — it only matters how you handle those hard times to make your future better.


My MEC Story

A look at previous installments in this series, written by students and alumni:

My MEC Story: Advocacy wasn’t an option — until I made it one.

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