"...What I would tell my 15-year-old self is that struggles don’t last always. If you persevere and if you continue to fight, then you’ll make it through."
Nameka Bates was born in Rock Island, Illinois in 1977, and has two brothers and four half siblings. During her childhood, Bates' family moved to Champaign. Shortly, she was placed in foster care and Edison Middle School. Bates attended UIUC with a passion for sports science. The McNair Scholars Program helped her attend grad school, and in 2002, she earned a PhD in sports management. Today, Bates is the assistant director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs, where she oversees the McNair Scholars Program, the very project that inspired her to get a degree.