Megan Thee Stallion Inspired by Late Mom to Stay in School Despite Fame: ‘I Want Her to Be Proud’
"I’m doing it for me, but I’m also doing it for the women in my family who made me who I am today," Megan Thee Stallion exclusively tells PEOPLE
Megan Thee Stallion is working diligently to honor her late mom’s legacy.
In PEOPLE’s latest issue, the star — who recently released her project Suga — opened up about what inspires her to continue pursuing her collegiate dreams despite her supersonic rise to fame.
The rapper is currently taking online courses part-time at Texas Southern University where she is matriculating towards her bachelor’s degree in health administration. She hopes to complete her coursework by next year and celebrate with an elaborate graduation party — and the driving force behind her education is an emotional one.
“I want to get my degree because I really want my mom to be proud,” she says about her mom Holly Thomas, who died in March 2019 after battling brain cancer. “She saw me going to school before she passed.”
The rapper, whose father died when she was a teenager, also lost her grandmother shortly after her mother died.
“I want my big mama to be proud. She saw me going to school before she passed,” says Megan. “My grandmother that’s still alive used to be a teacher, so she’s on my butt about finishing school. I’m doing it for me, but I’m also doing it for the women in my family who made me who I am today.”
At the time Megan lost her mom, her fans rallied and shared their support on social media. “God protect you always,” one person wrote to the star.
Speaking more on the incredible women who influence her today, Megan tells PEOPLE: “I literally watched my mom and my grandmother get up and go to work every single day. My big mama owned three houses in South Park [Houston]. She was going hard, working to provide for our family, so I’ve always seen her drive.”
“I’ve always seen everybody in my life be independent,” she recalls. “My daddy passed away when I was 15, so my mama was still going hard taking care of us. If we were going through money problems, my mother and my two [maternal] grandmothers always made sure I didn’t know. We could’ve been struggling, but they made it work. I’ve always seen strong women making it work, so I’ve always wanted to have that same drive the women in my family have. I know I get a lot of my strength from my mother and both of my grandmothers.”
Megan, who has made a name for herself as one of the newest groundbreaking women to enter the male-dominated rap industry, plans to help some of her fellow TSU classmates land their first post-graduation work experience.
“I really wanted to be an administrator over a hospital, but I knew I still wanted to be Megan Thee Stallion. I was like, ‘What can I do?’” says the star. “I was like, ‘You know what, I’m gonna open an assisted-living facility and use the money that I make from rapping to open it. Then I’m gonna let my classmates run it.”
Megan, who won the 2019 BET Hip Hop Award for Best Hot Ticket Performer (which has previously been awarded to Drake, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Kanye West), still makes time to study and complete her assignments in between her busy schedule.
Before large gatherings were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, the star says she “[was] either finishing schoolwork on the way to a show, after a show, or getting it done in the morning so I can be a rapper at night.”
Now, she has some words of encouragement for current students and recent graduates. “College is a lot of stress. You can’t let that little [GPA] number discourage you because at the end of the day, you got your degree and now you’re out here living,” she says. “You’re gonna get the job that you want eventually. You worked hard enough to complete school, so I know that you can work hard enough to complete whatever your next goal in life is.”
She’s also urging those who look up to her to follow their passions. “If I am somebody’s role model, I want them to take away that you can still go to school, you can still pursue your dreams and you should still be you, no matter what the circumstances are,” says Megan. “If that’s what they’re taking away from me, then I feel like I’m doing a good job.”
For more on Megan Thee Stallion, pick up PEOPLE’s 2020 Beautiful Issue, on newsstands Friday.