UMO Alumnus Nathan McKee Takes Technology to New Levels at SCC
MOUNT OLIVE-Clinton, NC resident Nathan Mckee has always enjoyed learning how things work. It is a curiosity that has served him well both in his military career and in his role as Sampson Community College’s Information Technology Department Chair.
Two years after completing high school in Charlottesville, VA, McKee enlisted in the Army National Guard. He served as an enlisted member of VA and NC Army National Guards from 1995 to 2017. During that time he was deployed to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once. His jobs on these tours of duty included Calvary Scout, Machine Gunner, and Combat Engineer Section Sergeant. He also received training in demolitions and robot operations to destroy Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) as needed.
In 1999, McKee graduated from Piedmont Virginia Community College with his associate’s degree in computer information systems. He took a job with Outsource, Inc. as a Data Analyst and moved to Clinton, NC in 2000. In 2005, after returning home from a combat deployment to Iraq, McKee enrolled at Sampson Community College (SCC), using the Montgomery GI Bill. After two semesters, he transferred to Mount Olive College, now the University of Mount Olive, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in computer information systems in 2007. Although he was an adult student, Mckee chose to enroll in the traditional daytime programs.
“The administration and my professors were very helpful when I needed to miss class due to military obligations,” McKee recalled. “UMO helped me prepare for my career by teaching me a great deal about technology and more importantly how to not give up when things get tough.”
In addition to his studies McKee became a walk-on for the Trojan track team, where he ran cross country. I enjoyed working with a team and traveling to competitions,” McKee shared. “Although I was older than the students and the coach, I never gave up.”
McKee still enjoys running today. He can often be spotted making laps around SCC’s new walking/running trail. And, that “never give-up attitude” is one that he often shares with his own students.
Having a passion for learning and figuring things out, McKee completed his master’s degree in information systems in 2010 from Trident University International. His role in academia began at Johnston Community College in 2015 when he took a job as an Adjunct Information Technology Instructor. He soon realized he had found his true calling. “Interacting with students that enjoy technology is a real joy to me,” he said. “It is especially rewarding when the ‘light bulb’ turns and they grasp a difficult topic.”
It was therefore no surprise, that in 2016, when a full-time IT Instructor position opened up at Sampson Community College, that Mckee jumped at the opportunity. After all, it was closer to home, it was a chance to give back to his alma mater, and it was an opportunity do what he loved.
“It is a huge yet very rewarding opportunity, to ensure that my students are learning what they need to know to be successful in today’s work environment.” McKee said of his teaching career. “It is also great to be validated by former students who contact me to let me know that they have gone on to bigger and better things, due in part to what I taught them.”
A year after joining SCC, McKee retired from the NC Army National Guard as a Sergeant First Class, and he was promoted to his current role at SCC as Information Technology Department Chair. As Department Chair McKee is responsible for planning curriculum and course offerings, as well as supervising faculty within the Department. He also teaches courses dealing with Information Technology and Cyber Security. Under McKee’s leadership, the SCC Information Technology Department has grown tremendously and added several strategic partners.
“We now partner with Cisco Systems, Palo Alto Networks, VMware, and Network Development Group, among others,” McKee shared.
In November of 2019, as a result of McKee’s “never give up” attitude, SCC was designated by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Education. It was an arduous process and one in which McKee spent countless hours outside of his normal duties to insure its success.
“It was a year-long validation process which ensures that SCC’s Cybersecurity curriculum is rigorous, relevant, and is producing a highly skilled cybersecurity workforce to both government and industry,” McKee said. “As of 2020, only nine colleges and universities throughout NC have achieved this designation,” he added.
“It is simply wonderful to hear that Nathan, an exemplary graduate in the UMO Computer Information Systems program, is now positively impacting the lives of his students- thus, the student becomes the master!,” said Dr. Karl Reimers, UMO Computer Information Systems Professor.
Chair of the Tillman School of Business at UMO Dr. Kathy Best said, “We are proud of the success of our alumni! Nathan has done an excellent job of utilizing his education at UMO to transform his career and make a difference in the lives of others.”
Likewise, Mckee shared his praise for UMO. “I am so appreciative to UMO for giving me the ability to find my true calling of educating others. For anyone considering returning to college, I would say, ‘It’s never too late to learn something new,’” he concluded.
McKee and his wife, Michele, who is a UMO alumna from the class of 2010, have one son, Kyle. They are members of Clinton Community Church.
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has education service centers in Mount Olive, Jacksonville, New Bern, Research Triangle Park, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Washington, and Wilmington. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.