“A diary of a college student” is a series where we profile a variety of students to get a glimpse of their day-to-day. Learn from their stories of balancing family, work, and school.
Tell us about yourself
I live in Glendale, CA, which is a fairly large suburb of Los Angeles. I am 46 years old and I have three children, all boys, ages 5, 9, and 11. I have been married for 12 years to a CIO-turned college professor. I am currently going to Penn State online, part-time, working towards my Master’s Degree in Human Resources and Employee Relations. I work full-time as a Manager of Administration for an in-house law department.
My early college career was less than stellar. I have always worked full-time, and trying to fit in night classes at the age of 18 – 20 was just too much for me. So I dropped out of college and focused on my job. Unfortunately, after about ten years in the workforce, I was still basically where I started. After much complaining about my boss, my job, my life, I decided to go back to school. What good was complaining if I wasn’t prepared to do something about it?
Four years and a wedding later, I was just finishing up my Associates of Arts degree when…surprise, I’m pregnant. I’ll never forget my very last night class at my local community college – I had to switch to a backpack with wheels because I couldn’t carry a regular one; I had trouble squeezing into the standard desks; and my professor thankfully waived the “no eating in the classroom” rule so that I could eat my bean & cheese burrito during class.
What is the hardest part of balancing family life and school life?
I completed my degree on-line at the University of Maryland while having two more babies. It was not always easy, and with each baby, I had to take a semester off to focus on my family. Then I would get back in the momentum and pick right up again, fitting classes and studying in with working and potty-training. Going that slowly, taking classes one at a time, was definitely discouraging at times; but I carried on nevertheless. It helped having a college professor as a spouse. He never let me drop a class; no matter how much I would rant and rave about not being able to handle it. He would let me calm down then hand me my textbook and tell me to keep at it. I am so grateful to him.
At last I was finished. I felt rather disconnected with my school as I was still in California taking classes, so I decided that I would fly to Maryland to accept my diploma in person. I am happy to say that my two oldest boys, along with my husband, were there when I walked. I wanted them to see why I had spent so much time studying and stressed out about my grades. They needed to understand how important it was for me to finish what I had started before they were even born.
What keeps you going?
I have now begun the Master’s Program at Penn State in Human Resources and Employee Relations. With a job, a husband, and three small boys, I am very busy and people always ask me how I do it. For me, taking classes is to me what a spa day or a girls’ night out is to some other women. College is my therapy, my “me” time, my future, my example to my children. It makes me feel good about myself and gives me more than I put in. One of my most cherished memories is of my children waving to me from the stands while I was walking up the stage in Maryland. So get ready, Pennsylvania, in 2017, here we come!
About the author: Anna Marie Magro is a 46-year-old part-time graduate student at Penn State online. She is studying for a Master’s Degree in Human Resources and Employee Relation. Anna Marie is married with 3 children, all boys, ages 5, 9, and 11.