Finishing My Degree: Returning to College as a Mom of Three

Editor’s Note: Dayna Furnish, a mother of three, loves being a mom but had regrets about not finishing her college degree. Just 13 credits shy of a college degree, Dayna knew that after eight years it was time to return to the University of St. Thomas. She made the decision to work towards a liberal arts degree as a part time student in UST’s adult degree program. In this Q&A, she shares her journey with the Celt Admissions blog.

What were the circumstances that made you have to leave college? What made you decide to come back to college after having kids?

My husband and I both attended UST. We got married in 2008, (he graduated in December 2007) and we couldn’t afford to come to school. Then, we had three children and after the third we decided, “okay, it’s time to go back.” My husband actually pushed me to finish my bachelor’s degree, saying I was too close to the end and that I had to get involved in the adult degree completion program at UST.

Why did you pick UST?

University of St. Thomas is where I started in 2003, right after high school. It was close to home and Catholic, which were two things I was looking for. I thought that it was appropriate to come back here to finish my degree after having children.

What did you pursue a degree in? What will completing your degree as an adult mean for you and your family?

I pursued a liberal arts degree with a theology and music concentration. I was originally going for a college degree in music, but my advisor suggested a liberal arts degree because it would allow me to graduate quickly.

Being 30 years old and coming back to school was, I don’t want to say “life-changing,” but…it was life changing. I completely changed my thought process of going to college and going back to school as an adult with kids and other priorities made me prioritize school higher than I originally had. There was something, I don’t know, just kind of emotional about my kids being able to see me graduate, and my son just graduated kindergarten so both of us got to do that together.

Dayna Furnish and kids

2016 graduate Dayna Furnish with her kids Stephen, 6, Agnes Marie, 3, and Thomas, 2, on the UST Seal Plaza.

How have you adapted to balancing school life and family life?

It was hard being a part-time adult student; I took three classes during the fall and two in the spring semester. My mother-in-law watched my two youngest kids while my eldest was at school, and my husband would also take care of them. It was a little difficult trying to write a 10-page paper, cook dinner, watch three kids and fold laundry, but again it was a priority. It wasn’t like “I’ll get to it”—even if it meant holding a baby while writing a paper.

What are your plans now that you’ve earned your liberal arts degree?

For now, I’m just planning on being a stay-at-home mom with an college degree. Maybe in the future, when the kids are in school, I’ll do a master’s or graduate program. Maybe teaching? Who knows!

What has been the biggest take-away from your experience at UST?

My biggest take-away is this: College isn’t just some place in your life where you for four years and that’s it. There will be a few memories that fade, but the ones that stay mean something. Professors I had my freshman year are now my friends and college friends that are now my children’s godparents. UST is a community and it doesn’t end after graduation; it’s just the beginning. I am UST.

Dayna Furnish and kids

Editor’s Note: UST has an Adult Degree Completion program that helps adults like Dayna finish their education with flexible scheduling options including day night classes. The University of St. Thomas also offers online adult degree programs where students can earn a college degree in business, early education, general studies, liberal arts, criminology or law & society.

Learn more about the Adult Degree Completion program and apply online today, or talk with one of our admissions counselors!

About the Author — StThomasHouston

The University of St. Thomas is the only Catholic, liberal arts university in Houston, Texas. We have 35+ undergraduate majors including STEM, Nursing, Business, Education and Pre-Med. Located in a vibrant urban environment just minutes from downtown and the famed Texas Medical Center, we welcome students of all races and religions to our diverse and collaborative campus.

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