Muskie Moms: Students face balancing acts

Brittney Mauk and husband Bryan with children Braxton and Natalie pose in nature.

Leah Ulatowski , Copy Editor

The college years are greatly important and oftentimes exasperating; however, imagine balancing that responsibility with possibly one of the most life-defining roles of all—motherhood.

Lakeland College is home to several young mothers and fathers seeking higher education and a bright future for their children.

“The most rewarding part is knowing that I’m going to have a great life for my son in the future,” Allyssa Ourada, sophomore communication and marketing major, said. She is mother to 2-year-old Pierson.

Brittney Mauk, senior accounting major and mother to 3-year-old Natalie and 1-year-old Braxton with husband Bryan, agrees with Ourada. She is graduating in December and believes her education is already contributing to the prosperity of her young family.

“I have a job lined up for January at a great company, and I know all the hard work I put into my schooling has finally paid off,” Mauk said.

Fortunately for Muskie mommies, there is an on-campus daycare that provides discount rates and flexible hours for Lakeland students and their children.

Hannah Sholten, senior exercise science major and mother to 2-year-old Eli, says she would not be able to attend school without the campus daycare, and she greatly appreciates the facility’s pristine condition and knowledgeable staff.

“The daycare staff are understanding, flexible and extremely caring. I know Eli is in good hands,” Sholten said. “He loves playing with his friends and the toys there, as well as playing on the playground—sometimes he doesn’t want to leave!”

“My kids are actually sad when they see me walk in the door [of the daycare]; they always want to stay and play longer,” Mauk said with a laugh, and added that she is grateful to the women who provide the service.

Emily Cook, senior business management major and mother to 1-year-old Braylin, appreciates the daycare’s hands-on approach in doing activities with the children.

“I have artwork all over our apartment that my son did at daycare, and he learns so much every day,” Cook said. “The daycare staff also takes the kids for buggy rides, and students are always telling me they saw Braylin walking and were waving and yelling to him.”

In addition to the daycare service, the four mothers say that Lakeland professors are very understanding when unforeseen circumstances arise concerning their children; however, all agree that heavy homework loads are the hardest thing to work into their schedules.

“I don’t have energy to do much school work once my son is sleeping, and I also can’t do it while he is up,” said Cook, whose schedule is so busy that she does not have a lunch break most days.

Sholten, who works 20-30 hours a week in addition to her schooling, agrees.

“After a long day of school or work and chasing a 2-year-old around, the last thing you want to do is homework,” Sholten said.

“I wake up before 5 a.m. to get myself ready and my son,” Ourada said. “We leave by 7 a.m. so I can work in the admissions office and attend classes. “It’s hard to manage homework, work, a social life and time with my son.”

“This being my last semester here, I had to take 18 credits. That in itself is a demanding work load even without small children!” Mauk said. “You need to be very organized and use your time wisely; I have a giant calendar on my fridge, so I know when and where I need to be. You also need to get as much homework done as you can when you get the chance.”

Despite their chaotic schedules, all of the women agree that it is important to take the time to appreciate the present and admire the preciousness of their children.

“The most rewarding part of being a parent is seeing my son learn new things and grow into his own person,” Cook said. “How much he admires me is so warming.”

It seems that the admiration in the eyes of their children is what grants these mothers the strength to oftentimes push themselves beyond what is humanly possible and build a beautiful life for their families.