Emily McKnight

Emily follows her ambitions at Iowa State

When she first started her college career, Emily McKnight studied psychology in the hopes to help her mother with her bipolar disorder. However, a few other life experiences changed her focus—along with the fact she didn’t want to attend med school.

During her first semester of college, Emily became pregnant. She had her first daughter in December, and two weeks later took her finals. Her perspective on school also changed as she shifted into motherhood.

“She fueled everything,” Emily said. “I wanted to do everything for her.”

Emily decided to go back to school and obtain her master’s. While studying, she quickly became interested in the recent decline of marriages in the United States, especially in the African-American community.

“I was a single mom,” she said. “And I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get a husband. I dated, and finding a boyfriend was no problem, but I couldn’t get them to commit like I wanted. I wanted to know why.”

In her research, Emily discovered the majority of people said they wanted to be married. Their attitude toward marriage wasn’t the problem. This fueled her curiosity even more. She began using her own dating life to test different theories. Eventually, she found that when she changed the way she went about dating, the right man came along. She’s now committed to teaching these same new dating techniques to single women who desire marriage.

“I reconnected with the love of my life, and I’m very grateful,” she said. “I have a husband now. I’ve been married for two years and have three wonderful children. And I want to help other woman have a more full-filling dating experience.”

Just like the birth of her first daughter, Emily’s family life pushed her forward. She decided to come to school and obtain a doctorate in human development and family studies. Her family supports her, with her husband moving from their California home to Iowa, and with their help and her own personal drive, Emily knows nothing is out of her reach. And with the right attitude, it’s not out of any graduate student’s either.

“My favorite quote is this, ‘Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain, and still succeed’ by Misty Copeland,” she said. “And that’s true. I always knew I wanted my Ph.D. I made myself a vision board, put it on there, and now it’s come true. If you desire something, keep chipping away at it until you get there.”