By Laurie Davies
She set out to finish her bachelor’s degree.
With her husband working as a driller then and gone three out of four weeks every month, Jex knew school would take discipline. She studied on her lunch breaks at work. At home, she set up her desk in the living room so that she could help her kids with homework while she worked on hers.
“In some ways it was motivating for the kids to watch me. My second one was in kindergarten when I was finishing my degree. The kids thought it was fun to watch mom do homework, too,” Jex says.
Today, as the other half of Jex Woodcraft, a custom woodworking business in the Phoenix area, Laura Jex does everything but the woodworking (which her husband does). “I do the customer service, taxes, marketing, social media, billing, accounting ….” She pauses there. “University of Phoenix got the last laugh on that, I guess. Even when I was taking accounting, I knew it was good for me. I knew I would use it.”
Aside from the fact that she uses the skills she learned in her BSB in practical ways daily, Jex says the most gratifying aspects of earning her degree have been proving everyone wrong and proving something to herself. “I proved to myself that I could do it,” she says, “even if it wasn’t on everyone else’s timetable.”
Back when Olive was in start-up mode, Skousen’s educational journey kind of felt that way, too. She’d had her own stops and starts, but watching her husband’s experience convinced her to enroll at University of Phoenix as well. She got her Associate of Arts in Business Fundamentals the same year her husband gradated with his bachelor’s degree. Then, at age 35, she earned her BS in Business Management.
Just like Laura Jex, Skousen had to become a master juggler. “I had designated time for studying and designated time to spend with our children. I knew I could fail at class, but I couldn’t fail at being a mom,” she says, noting that she did wind up with a 4.0. “I guess I didn’t fail at either.”
Financial sacrifices also had to be made. “We did do student loans, and there were times when I wanted to double up on classes, so we would have to pay out of pocket for that. There are things we feel like we sacrificed in the short term, but they were not sacrifices in the long term,” she says.