My husband encouraged me to apply to ASU Online. I was apprehensive. I knew if I was going to complete my bachelor’s degree online, I needed to make sure my husband and daughter were aware of both the time commitment and the lack of time that I would have to spend with them until I graduated in May 2019. I was not worried about my husband because I knew he’d understand; he’s my number one cheerleader. I was concerned about my daughter, Niya. She would be starting her first year in middle school. I know middle school can be brutal. As her mother, I wanted to make sure I was able to give her my undivided attention.

I knew that in order for me to move forward, I needed everyone on board. I called a family huddle, and I told Niya that I wanted to finish my bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University.

Niya looked at me and said, “Mom, you have a goal to complete your degree before you turn 40. I support you.”  With the blessing of Niya and Scott, I applied to Arizona State University.

The first semester was challenging, I tried juggling school with being a mom and a wife, but it did not work. I fell short in every aspect of my life.  I cried a couple times and asked myself what I had gotten myself into repeatedly. I hated missing out on my daughter’s life and family activities, and I missed quality time with my husband. I knew if I continued in the direction I was heading in, I would fail.

If I wanted to succeed, I would need to find balance and to find my confidence.

I called a second family meeting, but this time I did not sugarcoat the conversation. I was upfront and honest with Niya and Scott: for me to graduate, I needed to come home, eat dinner, spend an hour with her and my husband, and then work on assignments for about 3-4 hours each night. On the weekends, I might not be able to go to the movies until I completed my homework. Our new quiet place would be the office. I would have to travel with my laptop on family vacations and be on it while at the pool. Scott and Niya both understood. Although she is supportive and cheers me on, I know it is hard for her not to have 100% of my attention. So, every hour, I take a 15-minute break from studying to go talk about shoes, Minecraft, and our dogs (Bella and Cash) with Niya, and I took every Friday off of work during July to spend extra time with her doing whatever she wanted to do.

When she sees me struggling, she finds ways to help me stay on track, and when she’s down about her own classwork and grades, I share stories of my personal struggles, as well as how I persevered. When I’m sitting at the computer beating myself up for not completing my degree sooner, I tell myself, “at least my daughter will know that anything is possible with sacrifice, hard work, faith, and determination.”’

We're so excited to share Cherise’s story! Cherise is a part of our #LearnASULive team, an ASU Online brand ambassador program highlighting students who are earning their degrees while living their lives to the fullest. If you enjoyed this, be sure to check back for new articles from Cherise so that you can follow along with her journey. To check out all her posts to date, visit Cherise’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and About Me.
Want to hear from our other ambassadors, too? Use the #LearnASULive hashtag across your favorite social channels to browse through them!
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