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I need to set a good example for my kids and for generations to come.

Anela Murillo


For Anela Murillo, there is nothing more valuable than spending time with her two children. The thought of missing those precious moments weighed heavily on her decision to return to school for her degree, but she knew the reward would be worth the sacrifice.

“It was rough, my kids would be like, ‘Mommy play!’ and I’d say, ‘Homework homework, homework. Just bear with me,” Murillo recalled at Ashford University’s 2015 Fall Commencement in San Diego.

A Texas native, Murillo became the first in her family to graduate college when she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Health Care Administration, and she arrived at commencement with 17 loved ones in tow, including her 6-year-old and 3-year-old.

“They’re awesome,” she said of her family, calling them her “inspiration” and, even more importantly, her “motivation.

Finding a balance

College is a unique challenge for a parent. It’s easy for a mother or father to justify their reasons to go back to school, but it can be difficult relaying them to a child, especially a younger child. They may not understand the long absences or why homework is suddenly a priority for mom or dad.

“Time management is a challenge that plagues all college students,” according to Ashford University Enrollment Services Manager Andrew Torpey. “When college starts, life doesn’t stop.

In his role, Torpey has advised several student-parents to create an action plan before they begin school, one that includes the following steps:

  1. Find a structured study time that works around your child’s schedule
  2. Communicate with your child about your decision to start school
  3. Create a daily to-do list
  4. Be open to asking for help

Focused on her career

For Murillo, having family to fall back on allowed her to keep a steady focus on school while also maintaining a steady performance at work. As a patient access representative in a Fort Worth-area hospital, she’s part of the nation’s fastest growing industry, and she knew a degree would give her a competitive advantage on the job.

“I need to set a good example for my kids and for generations to come,” she said. “But professionally, I need to be able to provide for them, and without furthering my education, that wouldn’t be possible."

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