One morning, I sat outside the Weber State Kimberly Art Hall for an hour, impatiently tapping my fingers on a bench. I’d been outside for an hour already waiting for my mother to come pick me up and drive me to a volunteer gig.
Being a carless 16-year-old NUAMES early college student who just took her road test to get her license, getting places can be pretty inconvenient. I’ve gotten really familiar with the UTA bus system, but it isn’t just about me – early mornings that I need to be at Weber State, my mom also has to wake up and drive me to the bus stop.
Feeling a little frustrated after I’d called home multiple times and gotten no response, I wished my mom had a cell phone. My empty stomach combined with the no-ride situation did not make me a happy person.
I looked around for my mom’s car and saw a lady walking across campus, one hand holding that of a little girl, the other carrying a deathly pile of textbooks. Suddenly, my anger dissipated. I realized it really isn’t my mom’s job to chauffeur – that was just her being a nice person. I’d gotten so used to it that I was beginning to take it for granted.
As I watched the lady walk away, I wondered whether she was a mother attending school and whether there were others like her. I did some research and discovered there are many mothers (some single) who are still working on their college education and others who have done it.
Sally Taylor, Weber State University alumni and current master of business administration secretary, found time for classes in the morning and during her lunch hour while working full time at Weber State while raising three children.
“When I got married, I promised my parents I would finish school. It took 20 years, but I did it,” Taylor said. “I think it was important to show my children to keep promises and always improve upon yourself.”
Taylor said it took her a longer because her husband was in the military. Traveling all over the world, Taylor would pick up credits here and there, but not all of them would transfer. Then there were other big interruptions.
“I think there’s a curse – whenever I got close to something, I got pregnant,” Taylor said. A full schedule of classes, work, homework and being a mother would stretch her day until 2 a..m.
While Taylor managed to finish school with kids at home, a single mother I know is finding it too hard. Sam, who asked that I not use her real name, said she may leave the nursing program soon because things are getting too busy to balance with school.
Sam is a Hurricane Katrina victim and a single mother of two kids. Her youngest has autism, which requires her to devote more time and attention to him.
“I am from the Philippines, so English is my second language. That makes classes even harder, especially writing essays,” Sam said. The tutoring centers on campus have helped her work past her language barriers, but the load is still overwhelming.
“I would highly recommend focusing on your education and career before having kids,” she said. “But either way, don’t give up hope. Keep moving every day.”
Sam said she doesn’t have a social or love life, what time she does have is spent with her kids or having alone time.
Beverly Watkins understands that kind of sacrifice. In 1977 she was Weber State Student of the Year while working part time, raising five kids by herself and maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
“I took about 18 credit hours every semester, plus labs and 16 hours of clinical on weekends.” She’s a volunteer now at Davis Hospital.
While she’s not using her degree in her current work, Watkins said it was worth it.
“It made me who I am and very strong. I would do it over again, but [I] would never want to go back to school.”
These stories made me realize mothers really are a force to be reckoned with. These ladies make up their minds to accomplish things and let nothing stop them, even when this balancing act gets tough.
It’s helped me appreciate not only my mother, but my father so much more. I have no experience of my own, but it seems raising kids is hard enough – combine that with going to school and holding a job? I don’t think just anyone could do it.
Lessons learned from these ladies? Wait to have kids. As a medical school hopeful, I’ll be 30 by the time I finish medical school, and it will take even longer if I have kids in between. Thanks to these mothers sharing their experiences, I’ve made up my mind to finish my schooling before starting a family.