Written by Shay Ugoh
As I begin to type this, I am sitting in the car rider line, waiting for my second grader to get out of school. Being a part-time student, a part-time employee, and a full-time mom, I am the epitome of a non-traditional student. People are amazed every single time that I disclose that I have four children. Yep, you read that right… all four of those children in the photo above belong to me! My journey to “parenting while studying” started very early on in my college career. The path I took that landed me pregnant before I was even two years out of high school, is an entirely different blog topic, but nevertheless there I was. Pregnant. I found out on my nineteenth birthday. I dropped my full load of college courses, and worked as much as I could to save money for the baby. After about two years of single parenting, I realized that I needed to make education a priority so that I could secure a better future for my son. I started taking classes, while working full time, and raising a child. Three years later, I met my future husband, and before I knew it I had grown up, gotten married, and had three more children.
In the fall of 2013, I decided to go back to school once and for all to obtain my bachelor’s degree. When classes started my youngest child was only three weeks old. How did I survive that? One word, swing. She loved her baby swing so much that even when it broke and stopped swinging, she still slept in it.
Three years later, I have my bachelor’s degree and am a second year graduate student. Every day I wake up around 7am. It doesn’t matter the day. Sunday-Saturday my little ones start to wake up around 7, somedays earlier, and even when my husband is home to make their breakfast, I still can’t sleep in because of the noise. I stay home with my three year old during the day while the older kids are at school. The most commonly asked question I get is, “When do you get your work done?” The answer is, “Whenever and wherever I can!” It is quite common for my daughter to be sitting right next to me as I do my schoolwork. Some days, she sits on my lap. On this day, she insisted on sitting on top of my book!
Being a parent while being in college is extremely difficult, and it’s not something that I would recommend. However, my children push me to be a better student. They don’t hesitate to ask me how my day was at school, or what kind of grades I am getting. We all work together to get things done around the house, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments in the classroom. My non-traditional student experiences may not be as fun or event-filled as those that join organizations and live in a dorm, but I will be forever grateful for my second chance, and for my “roommates” that I get to share my student life with.