It can be challenging to balance school, work, and family, but our Virginia College students do it every day. In doing so, not only have they been able to pursue careers they love that help improve life for their families, but they also serve as inspiration to their children. Here are some of our favorite stories from Virginia College students and graduates who prove that it is possible to go back to school — and that it is worth it.
Sheenah was a newly married U.S. Navy veteran who was "college hopping" before she finally found her direction in life, enrolling in the Business Administration program at Virginia College in Jacksonville.
"My life was full of adjustment at the time," she says.
Sheenah was able to finish her studies with the support of her husband, 12-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter. She also credits the staff and instructors at Virginia College.
"Virginia College really wants to set you up for success. I would like to send a special thank you to the staff and professors throughout my entire experience," Sheenah says.
After graduating in March 2016, Sheenah became the Assistant Marketing Coordinator at the Jacksonville Public Library where she works now. Additionally, she manages her own business, Studio of Evangelistic Living Arts in Harmony.
Jennifer, a wife and a mother of four children, enrolled in the Surgical Technology program at Virginia College. She dedicated her time to school in order to set an example and give a better life to her family.
“I wanted to give my kids something to look forward to, to show hard work pays off in the end,“ she says.
After graduating and working in her field, she was offered a position with the hospital where she did her externship.
“I love being able to put what I studied so hard for into practice,” she says.
After having a child and being a stay-at-home mom for over a year, Marcia realized that her time spent at home had put her out of touch with the job market, making her career search even more difficult. She enjoyed research and solving problems. Looking for a change, she enrolled in the Medical Billing and Coding program at Virginia College.
“The instructors did everything possible to help,” she says. “They had nothing but patience for you. One of my favorite instructors would walk around saying, 'You're brilliant,' to everyone, and you really believed it by the end of the day, let me tell you.”
After graduation, Marcia started working at one of the largest clinic systems in her area.
“My education really helped me in this position because it's exactly what I learned how to do,” she says. “I've moved up quite a bit. I'm in a really, really good position right now, and I'm happy for it.”
Angelica, a mother of three, was laid off from her job in 2014. Time was something that kept her from jumping into school because she wanted to be a full-time mom and be there for her children. Finally, Angelica came into Virginia College after seeing many commercials about the Cosmetology program.
“I was always doing family and friends’ hair,” Angelica said. “Once, my mom let me get into her hair. She let me style it and put curls in it. Once she started wearing it to work, I knew I wanted to focus on it. It was just the right fit from the very beginning.”
Now, Angelica balances her time between school and her children.
“It’s a balancing act. Sometimes when the kids are doing their homework, I do mine,” Angelica said. “While they’re eating, I eat. If I have a little free time, then that’s our free time.”
Nicole chose to pursue the Medical Assistant program because she has a passion for helping people. She gives her son credit for being able to pursue her passion.
“My son inspires me daily,” Nicole said. “I keep pushing for more to ensure stability for his future.”
Nicole’s advice to someone who is just starting out is to stick with it and learn to focus.
“Just stay focused and go for your dreams and then some!”
Karri has never been one to like school, so after high school she joined the military. During that time, she met her husband and eventually got pregnant. Her number one priority was to be a mom, so she got out of the military.
When she started at Virginia College, Karri was nervous since she never enjoyed school. She always wanted to be in the medical field, so she joined the medical assistant program.
“I’m a hands-on learner, so I like to be able to see how things operate. When I visually see it, that’s what excites me,” Karri said. “So being able to see it hands-on and actually doing it shows me that it was all worth it. I think these are the best grades I’ve ever had. It feels great.”
Karri says the one who inspires her is her husband. On days she doesn’t want to go to school, he encourages her to go.
“I think, I hope, someday I can be the one to inspire my son,” Karri said. “So hopefully he can look at Mom and Dad and be like, ‘Hey my parents are pretty cool, you know?’ So that’s what I’m hoping for someday.”
We are proud of each of these hard-working mothers who prove that going back to school and pursuing a new career is possible. Is Virginia College right for you? Use this checklist to find out.