When you cement plans to wrap up your undergraduate degree in a worldwide hit song, the pressure is on to meet your self-imposed deadline.
Rap superstar Megan Thee Stallion—known as Megan Pete at her HBCU alma mater Texas Southern University—fulfilled the promise she made in summer chart topper “Thot Shit”: that in “2021, finna graduate college.” As fans celebrated her walk across the stage in December with the hashtag #MeganTheeGraduate, there are signs that the Houston native could be inspiring others to do the same.
Like many undergrads, Megan Thee Stallion’s path to graduation wasn’t a smooth one. The “Savage” rapper told Rolling Stone that she started her degree at another Houston-area HBCU, Prairie View A&M University, and took a smattering of community college classes before deciding to complete her bachelor’s degree in health administration at Texas Southern.
Megan, who won the Best New Artist Grammy in 2021, was so eager to graduate that she took five classes during her final semester, she reveals in the interview. Even her managers pitched in by reminding her of assignments. When her music career took off, Megan talked to school administrators about options for staying enrolled and shifted to online classes.
“I wanted to get out of there,” the 26-year-old tells the magazine. “I kept asking my Dean. I was like, ‘What do I have to do to just be finished?’ She was like, ‘Okay, Megan, you really going to have to buckle down and these are the last classes that you have to take.’”
That person giving Megan some real talk was Health Administration Program Director Monica Rasmus. She says there’s been an uptick in interest in the program, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and has heard of prospective students mentioning Megan by name.
“She inspired in two areas: One for returning to school to complete what students had started, and for an interest in majoring in health administration,” Rasmus says. “It’s not simply Ms. Pete’s graduation. It’s her attendance and her matriculation through the program. I would think her continued success in the entertainment industry would be an impetus for students to seek out our program because it’s always going to be attached to her.”
Rasmus notes there could be another element at play in the higher call volume to her office, aside from Megan’s starpower.
“The pandemic put public health in the forefront of people’s minds,” Rasmus says.
On graduation day Dec. 11, fans tuned into the university’s livestream and reacted in real time to the ceremony. Twitter got in on the celebration by creating a special #MeganTheeGraduate and #HottieGraduation hashtag icon. The hitmaker got shoutouts from celebs like fellow rapper Cardi B and education officials including U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
Over the summer, Megan offered encouraging words to fellow undergrads and fans on Twitter.
“My college experience has been a roller coaster!” Megan wrote. “I started at PV went to some community colleges in between and I’m ending at TSU. Don’t get discouraged! You can chase your dreams and your education at the same time 👏🏽”
Rashid Mosavin, dean of Texas Southern University’s pharmacy and health sciences college, says it’s too soon for numbers to reveal what Megan’s true influence on enrollment might be. But her donation of $25,000 in scholarships—part of her nationwide $1 million scholarship partnership with e-commerce brand Fashion Nova—has already helped three students overcome what Mosavin says is the greatest barrier to graduating: access to financial aid.
“I think the impact is huge,” Mosavin says. “I hope she inspires not only students in my college but in arts, dance, all of that.”
Many college students will be able to relate to Megan’s confession that motivation was a huge challenge while completing her degree. But she stayed the course to honor her late mother and grandmother, who both died in 2019.
“Before they passed away, they saw me going to college and they were really hard on me about finishing college,” Megan tells Rolling Stone, “so I was like, you know what? I’m not just doing it for myself, I’m doing it for them too. I want them to be so proud.”
The rapper now has a Texas Southern scholarship in her name, Thee Megan Fund. She has also expressed her desire to open assisted living facilities in Houston, inspired by watching her grandmother care for her great-grandmother, and create jobs for new college graduates in the city.
“Not only was she good at bringing awareness to our program at the university, she was a good citizen in the program and an asset to her fellow students,” Rasmus says. “We’re proud of her accomplishments and paying it forward through the university.”