- Eternal Flame
A Degree More Than Me
Many students experience unexpected setbacks where they miss a semester of college, but these circumstances don’t always prevent students from earning their degrees. According to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, more than one in five college students (or 22% of all undergraduates) are parents. Of the 3.8 million students raising children while in college, roughly 2.7 million are mothers.
Madi Nation is a working mother who took a semester off in 2016 to spend time with her newborn son. She came to West Texas A&M University from Amarillo College after her extended break to continue pursuing her bachelor’s degree in English.
Nation was excited because she has always loved school and knew she wanted to get her degree, but also was nervous about leaving her new baby boy somewhere all day and not getting to see him as much as before. WTAMU was not her top choice, but it was the closest place she could commute to each day.
Nation struggled with traveling to classes and going to work immediately after because she attended classes four days a week and worked right after. That didn't leave her a lot of quality time with her son. She said she enjoys laying around the house with him.
Nation’s advisor has helped keep her on track through the ups and downs of her return.
“My advisor is always around to talk or rant, have lunch, or whatever I need to do when I’m having a hard time keeping up with things,'' Nation said.
She knew she wanted to get her degree, and thought it would be easier to attend college while he is still young. Her grades dropped below their usual average when she came back the first semester. The second semester back was better, as she found a new “normal” in her new responsibilities. She said she just needed to get back into the school and homework routine.
Abigail Delao is also a mother working to earn a degree in psychology. Delao has a three-year-old boy and is pregnant with a girl. Delao had many emotions when returning to WTAMU, stemming from adjusting to new surroundings and shifting priorities.
Fear was the biggest one.
“Fear of learning how to balance my grades and the love for my child,” Delao said.
“It is very hard to balance schoolwork and time with my son. Just today I was trying to type a paper and my son wanted to watch a movie right next to me,” she said.
Delao has managed to keep her GPA up by reducing the number of classes she takes in a semester.
While motherhood could have been a limit to these mothers in their quest for education, both Nation and Delao show that what some view as a setback can be an opportunity for growth in disguise. These two mothers, in addition to balancing the needs of a family with their own academic venture, leave a legacy of the value of education for their children.
By: Casey Sullivan
Photo by Allison Moore
Artwork by Hailee Cox