Malia Perry said she felt like an outsider in the LDS community because people did not know she was divorced, but assumed she was married because she had two children.
Perry, a senior studying health science, said being a single parent who juggled raising two young boys, school and working full-time was difficult.
“We all have difficult trials, but going through a divorce, moving from Ohio to Idaho by yourself and being a single mom is something a lot of people can’t relate to,” Perry said.
Perry said she had to prioritize her time so she could get everything done. She said she would put her boys to bed and then do her homework.
Perry said before she remarried, she would dedicate her weekends to her children instead of going out like single students.
“I met a great man who loves both my kids and me,” Perry said. “Having a family unit and a supportive husband helps shoulder the responsibility of raising two kids while being a full-time student.”
Along with being a full-time student and parent, Perry works security in the David O. McKay Library during the week.
Perry said she likes to work security for the library because it is flexible with her schedule and she does not have to go off campus multiple times a day.
“From husbands who work 40 to 55 hours a week while going to school full-time and being devoted to their families, to women who want to gain a higher education and raise families when the two seem to be conflicting priorities, to any number of single parents struggling to juggle all their priorities, finding the time to fit every righteous desire into one’s life can be a struggle,” according to Elder Larry S. Kacher on lds.org.
Sierra Hales, a senior studying early childhood/special education, said she juggles being a full-time student and parent with persistence and faith.
“To be technical, my husband and I do a lot of juggling back and forth, as he has been working and is a full-time student as well,” Hales said.
Hales said she and her husband arrange their schedules so they spend minimal time away from their children.
She said they have been lucky to have friends who are able to help them with babysitting when school and work get in the way.
Nathalia Avila, a senior studying communication, said she feels bad when she has to focus on school instead of her son. She said she keeps her son next to her while she is studying so she can take breaks to play with him.
“When he is sleeping, that is the time I get everything done,” Avila said.
Avila said although school is important, it is not the most important thing in her life. She said she would rather take a lower grade so she can spend time with her son and husband.
“The advice that I would give to future parents who are also full-time students would be to stay strong and push yourself through it,” Hales said. “Some days are going to be difficult, but you will see the wonderful results that come from being a mother/father to innocent and beautiful little humans.”
Hales said Latter-day Saints should stay close to the Lord and the gospel. She said to be strict in keeping the commandments and to rely on daily prayer and scripture study, even if it is just for a few minutes to read a few verses.
Perry said those who are thinking about having children or getting married should not let stress get to them. She said they should continue with school but focus on starting a family at the same time because the Lord will bless them.
“Be strong and don’t get discouraged,” Perry said. “Don’t let yourself become negative because you will overlook the tender mercies and miracles that the Lord is bestowing upon you and your little ones.”