The National Guard, Motherhood, and now – pursuing her dream of a degree

(New Philadelphia, Ohio) – Like, many, Heather Stromski faced challenges and changes in her course due to life, but she has found her her way back and is pursuing her dream.

Newsymom is proud to announce Heather Stromski as the first award recipient of the Newsymom Scholarship. Heather will receive $500 to support her journey with Kent State University at Tuscarawas. 

“Being a student is hard, being a mother is hard, and when you put those two things together at the same time the challenge is even bigger,” explained Newsymom Founder and Executive Director, Michaela Madison. “Our goal at Newsymom is to connect with as many moms as possible, remind them they are never alone, connecting them with valuable resources, and rally behind them. It is our pleasure to award Heather with this scholarship.”

Below is Heather’s full essay submitted with her application for the scholarship. Thank you, Heather, and good luck!

I started college in my early twenties, and had difficulties juggling my obligations between the California Army National Guard, work, helping to care for my underage sister, and school. In the end, school lost the battle, and life went on its way. Within a few years, I found myself living in Ohio, with two stepchildren, Ian and Caitlyn, and a newborn son, Joshua. A few years later, my daughter Stella joined us and completed our family. During those first years of their lives, my foremost priority was their care, so I was a stay-at-home mother. We were and are a low-income family and have endured a lot of struggle, but we had to make the best decisions for our family. Given that we live in a very rural area with few options for childcare, along with the likelihood that paying for childcare would have us lose much-needed money rather than allow my income to help us, we decided that my not working was the best choice.

This year, my youngest, Stella, entered kindergarten, and I knew that, with the time once dedicated to my children’s care opened up, I wanted to return to school to finish my degree. I discovered during my stay-at-home years that my calling is to work with books. I love to read, and have since I was a child. I’ve worked at many bookstores, but don’t enjoy being a salesperson. Having children now has caused me to spend a lot of time at the local library, and this helped me make my realization. I want to be a librarian. I want to spend the time that I am not with my children surrounded by books, and learning, and helping the community. To reach this end, my research led me to discover that I first need to finish my bachelor’s degree, and then I need to attain a master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences.

It was not easy when I first began college those many years ago, to juggle so many obligations, and it is not easy now, when I have a much more important one that has to take priority. At the same time, though, I know that it is important to do things for my children, not just me. I want them to see that it is never too late to follow your dreams. There is no timetable for life, they do not have to let society impose milestones and restrictions on them. If they persevere, and believe with all their heart that they are capable of something, then they will reach their goal.

I also believe that seeing me in school, doing schoolwork, and reaching for good grades helps them in their current lives. My son Josh, who has always had issues with being interested in school and putting the effort in, has already become a little more involved with trying to do well. He has helped me study for exams and asked questions about stuff that intrigued him, but he didn’t understand. My stepdaughter Caitlyn is set to graduate this year from a vocational high school and is on track to be awarded her license in cosmetology, ready to enter the work force after graduating and follow her passion. She is also talking about taking business courses in college, as she has the dream of one day owning her own salon. She has told me that part of what drives her to excel is seeing her father’s work ethic, and my drive to better myself and achieve my dreams.

It is my belief that being a mother now actually makes me a better student, because I have more focus, and a set goal in life to achieve. I didn’t have that before. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but no idea how to go about it, and I feel as though I was drifting through life. Now, having strengthened my ability to multitask and organize, I feel much more prepared. More than that, I have a sense of purpose that I didn’t before. In truth, being a mother became my saving grace in terms of achieving my dreams.

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