Saturday, June 1, 2013

Natalie - Part 1: Leading by Example

June's Momster of the Month, is my sister Natalie! I am so proud of her decision to return to school and the positive impact she is making for her family.  I've been through college, and it was not easy.  Natalie is getting ready to start her final year of the BA in Education program through WSU and she has miraculously maintained a nearly perfect GPA while raising three children.
Natalie started college at WSU after graduating high school.  However, she hated living in the dorm and her major of choice, Vocal Performance, was geared toward classical/opera and she was not interested in opera at all.  Then tragedy struck just after Christmas break of her Freshman year when her friend, Sean, was killed in a car accident.  Natalie recalls, "Having to deal with that, coupled with not having the opportunities in my major, I dropped out..." 
College, round two, Natalie transferred to a non-denominational college in Michigan to major in Music Industry Production, but she left that school after just one year.  "I liked the classes, and the major, but the school was unwelcoming and judgmental...".  Natalie said the way she was treated made her feel as if her Christian beliefs were "wrong and borderline evil".
Natalie then spent years working several different customer service and retail jobs.  By this time, Natalie and her husband had two boys who were 2.5 years and 6-months old.  While working at a dead-end job that she hated, she recalls how the decision to return to school arose. 
"I realized that if I expected my kids to be successful and do something productive with their lives, I needed to set a better example.  I was getting to the age where I felt like I had so much potential in the past that I had just squandered and I really needed to get myself into gear to try to make something of myself that my children could look up to." 
Natalie was not sure what exactly she wanted to do, but was interested in teaching and working with kids.  Because she needed to be able to start taking classes online, she contacted the University of Phoenix, was walked through the enrollment process, and was told she could start the very next week!  She was shocked!  Natalie took a couple of weeks to mentally prepare for the reality that she was actually doing this, and started the week after Thanksgiving in 2009. 
Returning to college after you've been out of school for about ten years would call for plenty of adjustment, but Natalie had to also do this with two young children, and she then had a baby girl in 2011!  Natalie finds that, understandably, the most challenging aspect of returning to school with young children has been trying to find time to do homework.  Also, the biggest challenge came when she started taking classes full-time on campus.  She has to coordinate everyone's schedule to make sure there is someone to watch the kids. 
Also, since starting the Education program full-time, Natalie has been unable to work so money has been very tight. 

"When I was still taking online classes, I worked two part-time jobs. After I started full-time at WSU, that went down to one part-time job. As soon as I started in the education program I haven’t worked at all. The work load was too much to have to try to fit in a job as well as taking care of the kiddos. There was no way I could do all of it, and the job was the only thing that could go. I recently started selling Scentsy, but have yet to turn a profit on it, and I also got a very part time job at the Bookie on campus. It is only a few hours here and there during book buy back, but it is something and I enjoy it. While I am in school, Alfredo has been the money maker."

If you are familiar with Scentsy products (or would like to find out more) and would like to support Natalie's business by purchasing some fantastic scents for your home, click here to visit her website.

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Click here for Part 2: Ch-ch-change to read about Natalie's support system, and her words of encouragement to anyone thinking about returning to school.

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