How One Courageous Mom Found the Grit to Follow Her Dreams
**Inside: Encouragement and advice you need to go back to college: An interview with a mom who has been there.
No amount of schooling, books, or advice from well-intentioned women could have ever prepared me for being a parent.
So going to college while I had young kids and working full time?
I cant even imagine!
I would want to hide under a rock before I even got started.
But so many people have been on this amazing journey, so if you’re contemplating going back to school, you’re not crazy. (ok, well maybe a little crazy), but you’re not alone.
Today, I want you to meet a woman who did just that:
She’s pretty amazing. I’m a bit biased, because, well, she’s my big sister. (though only 15 months older!)
But more than being my big sis, she’s one of my best friends, a fantastic aunt to my kids, and an extraordinary inspiration for all women.
While she did go to college right after high school, she decided to drop out before earning her degree. However, several years later, she decided she wanted to get that degree.
Now for many women, they would just say they wish they had gone back to college and that would’ve been the end of the discussion. And for some, college isn’t always the answer.
But my sister, well, once she makes up her mind, then there’s no turning back. Whether that meant:
- Sneaking into R rated movies as teenagers
- Skipping school
- Or becoming the great mom that she is today.
A few years, sweat and tears down the road,
I had the honor of sitting in the bleachers while sharing a tear and a wide smile with my niece (my sister’s little girl) as I watched my sister spring down the long aisle to grasp her hard-earned diploma.
Now that’s leaving a legacy.
So how did she do it and how can that help you in your life?
I sought to answer just that. Jamie has some great advice on going back to college. She honored me by answering the following ten questions about her journey of becoming a stronger version of who God already knew she was.
**Jamie’s answers to my questions are in italics. Some answers have been edited for content and to help you understand her story. The content is from Jamie’s own words.
1. What year did you go back to college and what was your degree in?
The first time I went back to college was to get my Bachelors degree in Business in the summer of 2011. I graduated in 2015. The second time I decided to go back to school was to get my MBA with a concentration in Human Resources in the summer of 2020, amidst the pandemic.
2. How old were your kids when you decided to go back to college?
The first time my kids were 3 and 1. The second time, they were 12 and 10.
3. What would you say the biggest challenge or barrier was once you decided to go back to college?
My biggest challenge even thinking about going back to college was:
- How I would juggle work,
- Raising a family,
- Keep a household going,
- And also make time for myself.
I can’t say it was easy. It took a lot of work, late nights, and sacrifices for me and my family. There were many barriers, even some of my own making but I was able to overcome them.
4. Why or what inspired you to go back to college?
I wanted to go back to college to help provide for my family. We were living paycheck to paycheck and really struggling to get by. Also, I wanted more for myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I was worth more. Also, I wanted to set a good example for my kids.
5. What is the one thing you would tell someone in the same situation?
The best advice I could give is:
- To stay the course,
- Take one day or class at a time,
- Keep yourself organized,
- And most of all take time for yourself.
It’s not a race but rather a journey. Many times I drove my family crazy because I was stressed out. I wish there was someone there that had gone through the same journey that could have reminded me that it wasn’t a race.
6. Do you have any tips for the day to day schedule of making life happen?
What works for me is to do something, even a little bit, every night. It was honestly easier when my kids were little because they went to bed at 7 or 7:30. I then had the rest of the evening to work on school work.
This time isn’t as easy because they go to bed much later, they have lots of extracurriculars, and even their schoolwork comes before mine. That means that organization now is even more important. It’s still late nights and weekends but I just remind myself to take one class at a time.
7. Do you have any specific resources you found especially helpful?
I didn’t really use any resources except daycare, even when I was off work. This was sometimes the only way I had time for myself or to do extra school work.
My hubby was my resource and support. He put up with so much and I don’t think I ever told him how much I appreciated him and his sacrifices to help me.
8. How has this changed your life today?
Well, I make more money! 😊 It gave me the confidence and self-assurance that I can do ANYTHING that I put my mind to.
Do I wish that I had finished school when I was younger? Yes, but would I have? I’m not sure. I wasn’t motivated then. I guess I just needed the right motivation – My family!
9. Is there one specific story or person that made an impact on you during your time going back to college?
For me, the key to getting my degree and juggling it all was the ability to do school work at work. I worked for a family company and the owner, Eric, was extremely supportive and didn’t mind me doing work at my desk or even in the break room.
Since the pandemic, I have more free time when the kids are at school and I’m home working. This freedom gives me the flexibility to do some school work if I need to. I have been blessed with some amazing jobs that have allowed me the freedom and flexibility to go back to school.
10. How did you take time for yourself?
I really didn’t take time for myself while getting my Bachelors degree. I had young children and they were my priority.
However, I have learned over the last couple of years that I have to take time for myself so movies are what I love doing for myself.
Jamie’s story inspires me every day.
And I hope her story encourages you to take that first step on the mountain you want to climb.
I know I didn’t always tell my sister how proud I was of her or how amazing I thought she was. If she didn’t know then, she knows now 🙂
And know this, just because it wasn’t your plan A, doesn’t mean it wasn’t God’s plan A.
1. You are worth more than you know.
You were made in God’s image and he knows every hair on your head.
2. Take time for yourself.
Even if it’s just five minutes, you have to take care of yourself. This isn’t selfish if you’re doing it to replenish your soul.
Now, this will look different for everybody, for Jamie it’s going to the movies, for me it would be taking a walk or enjoying a good book.
Whatever you do, just be intentional and write it in your schedule if you need to.
3. Remember to walk the journey, not run a race.
Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or end. Instead, look around you and see who you’re taking the journey with. You just may find a friend.
4. Ask for help!
Take advantage of the resources you already have. If your kids are already going to daycare, it’s okay to take an off day.
I take my kids to daycare on my off days almost every week. And I’m not even going back to school.
5. Take it one step at a time.
Little steps get you to the top. Don’t look at the next ten steps, but rather, what’s the next best step?
6. Don’t dwell on the past.
We all have things we would probably change from our past. For instance, I would have tried out for the tennis team. I was definitely better than at least one girl on the team. (I know this because I played with her for fun, and I smoked her most of the time. )
But we can’t change the past and we can’t live in regrets. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and keep moving forward.
So whether you’re a:
- A mom of young kids,
- A high school drop-out out,