By Tom Ramstetter
NKU Marketing + Communications

Marc Banks has overcome a number of trials and tribulations to reach this point in a story of persistence.

The 24-year-old senior who is originally from Atlanta, will graduate from Northern Kentucky University Saturday, Dec. 13, with a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the College of Informatics and a minor in organizational leadership.

After commencement, Marc will move on to Washington D.C. where he will have the opportunity to work through a program offered by The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

Marc has battled since birth to get to this point.

“My mother was a drug addict who was unable to take care of me,” Marc says. “My father was unaware of my birth. The doctors gave me a very low chance of survival because of the heavy drug use. I stayed in the hospital for quite a while.”

With his mother’s inability to care for him, Marc became a ward of the state of Georgia. A close friend of the family phoned his grandmother on his father’s side, and informed her that she had another grandchild in Atlanta.

“She came to see me without the intent of taking custody of me,” Marc says. “But she said that once she saw me, she didn’t want to let me go. I refer to her as my guardian angel. Because the environment in Atlanta wasn’t necessarily the best at the time (late 80’s, early 90s), we relocated to Cincinnati.” 

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Marc Banks has overcome a number of trials and tribulations to reach this point will graduate from Northern Kentucky University Saturday, Dec. 13, with a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the College of Informatics and a minor in organizational leadership.

Marc has dealt with a number of health complications throughout his life because the predicament into which he was born. Through it all, Marc has continued to battle.

“I’ve had five surgeries throughout my life thus far, and four of them have been since I started college,” Marc says. “The doctors told me that I would most likely have health issues for the rest of my life. My immune system simply isn’t strong. While there were times I became discouraged — I knew that I wanted to finish college and work in public relations, and I want to be a role model for my brothers in Atlanta, so they can see it is possible to overcome, and aspire for something greater.”

Marc brought those aspirations with him to NKU where he was attracted by the small class sizes and the sense of community.

“I liked being recognized by my teachers and them knowing my name,” Marc says. “It makes the learning environment personable. Teachers at NKU recognize when you’re not in class. This gave me a sense of accountability, and encouraged me to go to class.”

While at NKU, Marc joined the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and he says it was one of the best decisions he has made throughout his journey. The PRSSA is a pre-professional organization that allows members experience outside of the classroom.

“I’ve had the ability to interact with students and professionals from all over the country,” Marc says. “I’ve attended leadership retreats and conferences from San Francisco, California, to Charlotte, North Carolina, with stops in between. I’ve been fortunate enough to hear from Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, talk to PR professionals for NBA basketball teams, and engage in lively debates with national political pundits.

“I’ve also met some lifelong friends through this organization. I honestly feel I can go to any state, and know someone there. Getting involved at NKU, and taking my college journey into my own hands proved to be a rewarding experience."

Marc is also a communications/public relations intern for the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement at NKU.

All of his work at NKU, inside and outside the classroom, has led to the opportunity in Washington — an opportunity he learned about through a friend he met while on a PRSSA retreat. The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation offers students and graduating seniors the chance to work on Capitol Hill for a semester. Marc will also have the opportunity to take nine credit hours at George Washington University. He is still waiting on the specific details, including for whom he will be working.

It’s been a long road so far and the journey is just beginning for Marc.

“My story is not one of success on the first try,” Marc says. “While that is commendable, it is not mine to tell. My story is one of persistence, and overcoming trials and tribulations to reach this point. While I’ve by no means had it easy, I understand that there are others who have been through as much, if not more than me. If I can encourage at least one of them to not give up, and keep pressing toward their goals and aspirations, I feel like my journey was not in vain.”