Moms Like Us Spotlight: Cari

At times it can feel like a lonely journey through college as a mother, but here is one mom who will inspire and encourage you to keep pursuing your goals and dreams!

Name: Cari Griffin

Age: 42

Number of Children: 6IMG_2117

Marital Status: Married

College: University of Michigan (Fall/2015)

(Dual major in history and English, minor in French)

North Central Michigan College (Graduate-May/2015)

Associate of General Studies

Dream job/Career Goals:

After completing a dual masters in History and Literature, and my PhD in History, I intend to teach at the university level, where I would like to focus on research and publication.

Why did you decide to go back to school?

I had been a stay-at-home mother since 2000, choosing to homeschool my kids. My older children, who are close in age, were starting college about the same time. This shift in the family dynamics meant that it was feasible for me to return to college and have enough time to study. I knew I wanted to return to college at some point, but finding that right time was important.

What is your biggest fear in terms of college?

I had been out of the academic world for over twenty years. I initially worried whether or not I could work at the college level. That has become less of a concern, and, now, it is more about time. Like any mother who works full-time, going to school full-time is a balancing act; I constantly have to assess if I am giving enough time to my family in relation to how much time I need to study.

Do you associate with students who aren’t mothers? If so, how do you feel around them?

All of the time! I see myself as their peer, albeit, a much older peer. I have met some astounding young men and women who are as academically driven as myself. They are incredibly interesting people that I am happy to count amongst my friends. While they are neither close in age to me nor do they have children, they share the same academic goals and concerns as I do.

What inspires/motivates you?

My children. I want them to see me pursue a dream, and, by doing so, realize that it is never too late to pursue theirs, nor, is the dream to large or ridiculous to consider.

Share a little bit of your story:

Given the single-minded determination I possess now, it would be hard for those who met me today to understand how different of a student I was in high school twenty-five years ago. Looking back now, I realize that I was probably bored, restless, insecure, immature, and, in no way driven, which, in turn, fostered a rather disdainful attitude towards education. My abysmal grades were the result. With no other choice than a community college, I spent two semesters that followed the same pattern as high school. With a dreadful GPA, I left college, began working full time with the United States Postal Service, and had a family. After a few years, I left the USPS to become a stay-at-home mother.

Fifteen years later, my older children were entering college, and my time to return to college had arrived. This time, however, I was a far different person and a far different student. Being an older, “non-traditional” student has been, for me, an enormous benefit. I understand the importance of an education and I understand the importance of a strong GPA. While having children means there are days when I need to miss class because of sickness and such, having been a mother for the last twenty years has taught me several important things: the need for diligence to complete a task, the importance of organization, and the ability to focus. These are such important skills to have in college, and, sadly, skills that my younger, less focused peers, often lack.

There came a point where I realized that I was not just going back to college. I found that I loved learning. I was doing well academically and, it became clear that I was exactly where I needed to be. My childhood love of history and literature was becoming more than just an interest; I was beginning to cultivate my interests into a viable career option.

I became an active member of my community college as both a student ambassador and an officer in our Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. I made connections with faculty and staff, from the president of the college, to the custodian. I applied and was accepted to all three universities that I sought a transfer to: the University of Michigan, the University of Colorado at Texas, and the University of Texas at Austin. I have committed to the University of Michigan and will begin there in the fall of 2015. I graduated from my community college with Highest Honors. It was an amazing feeling.

IMG_2155During my two years at the community college level, I have attended with three of my children at various times. One of them graduated with me last week. It has been a deeply rewarding experience to be on this journey with them.

Favorite Inspirational Quote?

“You can have anything you want if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose.”-Abraham Lincoln

Any advice for others thinking about going or returning to college?

You can do this! Do not underestimate your abilities! The skills you use every day as a mother are the skills needed to be a great student!

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