My journey as a mother, wife and student

Southwestern College student Artcel Ruiz, second from left, with her son Justin, her daughter Jianna and her husband Frank.

Two years ago, my passion for my 20-year career in real estate was slowly fading, and I was considering making some bold and big changes. I knew for sure that I loved public speaking and organizing/planning, so I thought about going back to school and finishing my degree in communications.

However, how do you explain to your husband that you’re leaving a solid career to go to school full time with two young children to support and bills to pay? After a week of contemplating what to say, I finally had the nerve to sit down with him and talk. After he listened to my detailed plans, asked a lot of questions, he cautiously said yes.

My first stop was to go to Southwestern College and reapply. I went to Southwestern College right after high school, took some classes, and had a great experience, but I chose to leave after two semesters to focus on my job and gain work experience.

I remember my professors were very knowledgeable, professional, and well-qualified and the staff was helpful and friendly. I only left because I thought that working on your career first was more important than your education.

Now, a year and a half later, I’m a few weeks away from receiving associate degree in communications and just one summer away from transferring to Indiana Wesleyan University. My journey hasn’t been without its challenges, and there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that helped me get here today.

Find a Support System

As a mom, there are so many chores to do: cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, the list goes on and on. Add school work on top of that, chores can become impossible. Plus, I have to do all this while still being a mother to my children and helping raise them with my husband.

Having a support group is integral. My husband, kids and close friends not only help me do chores, but have been my emotional support through this big transition in my life.

When I look at my husband, my daughter and my son, who is also a student at Southwestern College, they inspire me to do my best and to give them a better future. I also want to show them that with hard work and focus, they can also become the best version of themselves.


After every semester, I always make it a point to plan and consult with my counselor to make sure that I am still on track. Knowing where you are going gets you on the right path to graduating on time. It also helps me to know that I am in control of my destiny by planning well.

Build Relationships with Professors

Getting support from my professors when I’m struggling to finish my homework or trying to figure out a complex topic is something I’m grateful for. My professors make sure that I succeed in their classes. They also challenge me in making sure I put in extra effort so I will grow not only as a student but also as a person. Professors at Southwestern College have inspired me to pursue my goals with hard work and dedication.

Me Time

My friends know that I always put in 100 percent of my effort in everything that I do. Wearing so many hats – being a mother, wife and student – can be really daunting and stressful. Making time for myself is important, and this is non-negotiable. Getting lost in a book, taking a walk at the park or even just watching an hour of “Project Runway” can be my necessary “me time.”

Years ago, I knew I had to quit my job and make myself a better person. I felt that nudge and I acknowledged it. With that, I got to know myself more. I learned that there are many possibilities for me, and that a brighter future can be reached. My destination and my dreams are on the horizon. There may be hills and valleys in this journey, however, with solid relationships, detailed planning and a strong support system, I know I will get there.