The Art of Balancing Motherhood and Higher Education

On Mother’s Day each year, we celebrate our mothers and thank them for all they do for us.

By: Rebecca Grissom & Jake Hreha

On Mother’s Day each year, we celebrate our mothers and thank them for all they do for us. Mothers inspire us by encouraging us to work hard and reach for our dreams.

This year, we decided to celebrate Mother’s Day at IWU-National & Global by sitting down with our Executive Director of Creative Services, Heather Boswell, who recently earned a Master of Fine Arts while balancing her role as a mom. She shared how pursuing her educational goals has impacted her view of motherhood.

Being a student and a mom can be challenging. You want to fully support your children and be fully present as a college student. Student mothers and student parents have to balance attending college and family life. We are grateful for student moms.

The traditional view of undergraduate students is young adults directly out of high school taking their first steps out on their own. A student mom changes that perception and shows that not all undergraduate students come from the same background. Postsecondary education is open to students looking to grow and develop.

A student mother looks to the future knowing that her time in college might be challenging but the end goal is worth the time and effort. Many student mothers have to figure out what child care looks like while they are in class, how to make quality time with their families, how to support their family members, and how to meet the academic demands of college courses.

Q: Can you share a little about being a student and a mom?

A: My journey to professional creative work was not the conventional route. Since I got married right out of high school, my college experience started as an adult when I already had three kids. After I got married, I was working in ministry and doing freelance design and branding work, but I really wanted to do full-time creative work.

While raising my three kids, I got my associate degree in graphic design and continued to build my career as a freelance designer. When a job opened for a designer at National & Global, it felt like the perfect opportunity. In 2016, I earned my bachelor’s degree in marketing, and that helped me focus my career goals even more. I loved raising my kids and cheering them on, but they were becoming more independent, and it gave me the opportunity to pursue my own dreams. I enrolled in a Master of Fine Arts program, which had been a lifelong goal of mine.

I completed my MFA in late 2021, and it felt like I’d finally reached the peak I’d been pursuing. That degree, along with my bachelor’s in marketing, helped me get the creative director position I have today.

Q: How did being a mom impact your decision to become a college student?

A: In my family, I’m the first person to get a college degree. I really wanted to pursue that dream to show my kids that they can do anything they set their minds to. I also felt like my identity had been confined to being a mom for so long, and I wanted my kids to know that they never have to be limited to one part of their life. I’m a mom and a professional, and I love being both of those things.

Q: How has your experience in higher education impacted your kids?

A: Part of my inspiration behind going back to school was to show my kids that their dreams and passions matter. I want them to find what they love and follow it. As a mom, it’s only natural to be consumed with raising your kids, but it was important to me that my kids saw more than the "mom" side of me. While it is one of my greatest achievements in life, it's not the only role that defines me. I wanted my kids to see all of who I was. As I was earning my degrees, my kids got to see the passionate, go-getter side of me who isn’t afraid to take on challenges. I hope it makes them brave enough to take on challenges of their own.

Q: If you could say anything to a mother who is considering going back to school, what would you say?

A: You can’t control everything, but you can control yourself – so chase your dreams and give yourself grace. It’s okay to pursue other ambitions while being a mom. Your kids don’t care if you’re supermom, but they will notice if you’re unhappy. Being happy is one of the best gifts you can give your kids. They care more about the smile on your face and the joy in your heart than they do about whether the laundry got folded today. You only get one life, and sometimes the best way to encourage your kids is show them what it means to dream big, take risks, and accomplish your goals.

Are you considering going back to school? Heather’s experiences are a perfect example of what it looks like for a mom to achieve her dreams in the midst motherhood. It was possible for her – and it can be possible for you, too. You can be a mom and chase your professional goals. Ready to get started? Check out our programs here.

Rebecca Grissom

Copywriting and Marketing Assistant, IWU-National and Global

Rebecca Grissom is currently a junior at Indiana Wesleyan University pursuing degrees in Strategic Communications and Humanities. She is passionate about good books, good coffee, and telling stories. When she's not working, Rebecca enjoys time spent with her dogs, nature, and friends.

Jake Hreha

SEO Copywriter, IWU

Jake Hreha is a graduate of Ball State University, where he majored in advertising with a concentration in media presentation and design. He is passionate about design, and in his free time he enjoys cycling, traveling, and reading.

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