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Moms Proudly Wear Cap and Gown as Long Journey to Rutgers Graduation Comes to a Triumphant Conclusion

Written by John Chadwick | SAS Senior Writer

 

 

What’s it like to be a student and mom? Arts and Sciences seniors discuss their RevolUtionary Experience

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They held down full-time jobs, pulled all-nighters to keep up with their studies, and leaned on family and friends like never before.

And through it all, they still handled the most important role: Mother.

“It has been a long road with plenty of hard work, late nights, and hours away from my son because I had to study, do a project, or finish homework,” says Crystal Molyneaux. “But it was worth it and I would not take a moment of it back.”

Molyneaux, whose son Brandon is 6, majored in psychology at the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) and is among a number of moms in the Class of 2017 who will receive their bachelor’s degree at the May 14 University Commencement and SAS Convocation, which take place on Mother's Day. 

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The moms constitute as diverse a group as one might imagine from Rutgers University, spanning racial, ethnic, and age divides, with career aspirations ranging from oncologist to union organizer to lawyer to school psychologist.

But they all have one thing that binds them together: a fierce commitment to get their degree, sparked by the belief that they are setting an enduring example for their children.

“What inspired me to come back to Rutgers is showing my daughter that even though I hit some detours in life, I was able to go back and finish up,” says Marcy Kennedy, a psychology major who has a 4-year-old daughter, Mia.

Leslie Reyes agrees.

"I did it for my daughter, so failure was never an option,” says Reyes, whose daughter Isabella is 8. “I knew that getting my degree meant increasing her chances of graduating, so that kept my dream alive.”

Lisa Scott, majoring in Africana studies, said her dedication to getting her degree has already had an impact on her son, who is a rising senior at Rutgers, one year behind her.

“I am a firm believer in practicing what you preach,” Scott says. “I took 19.5 credits in the fall of 2016 and earned a GPA of 3.923. My son stepped it up and is registered for 19.5 this spring.”

The moms often relied on friends and family to help them through the demands of school and parenting.

“I’ve had an amazing support system from my younger sister Elmyra,” says Margaret Rodriguez, whose son, Ricardo, is 6. “She helped babysit while I work 13-hour shifts. Without her, I don't know if I would have gotten this far.”

At least one mom faced serious illness and still refused to quit. Christina Rescate, an English major, was stricken with cancer, endured chemotherapy, and made it back to get her degree. She’s planning on attending law school.

“The fortitude I required to earn my degree pales in comparison to the joy I have from feeling worthy of the pride my daughter expresses for me,” Rescate says. “To have my family present to witness this milestone, especially my mother Lorraine and daughter Sabrina, is the best possible way I could imagine spending Mother’s Day.”

Congratulations to these courageous, committed graduates of the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences!

Thanks for sharing your stories with us. 

 


 

Meet the Graduates

  • Angela Annaguey

     

    Name: Angela Annaguey

    Hometown: Plainsboro

    Major: History

     

    I was always telling my son to dream big.  But I was not following that advice in my own life. I needed to show him, not simply tell him.

     

    Read More
  • Jessica Cintron

     

    Name: Jessica Cintron

    Hometown: Somerset

    Major: Latino and Caribbean Studies and Psychology

     

    This achievement is more than mine alone. My degree belongs to my family just as much as it does to me.

     

     

    Read More
  • Katherine L.E. Hoyt

     

    Name: Katherine L. E. Hoyt 

    Hometown: Freehold

    Major: English

     

    I value my time at Rutgers because I have finally been able to appreciate the pursuit of academic excellence that I was not able to enjoy while I was in college when I was younger.

     

    Read More
  • Marcy Kennedy

     

    Name: Marcy Kennedy

    Hometown: Somerset

    Major: Psychology

     

    I wanted to show my daughter that education is important, and even though I hit some detours, I went back and finished up.

     

    Read More
  • Charlotte Massiel

     

    Name: Charlotte Massiel

    Hometown: Woodbridge

    Major: Communication 

      

    To my daughter Skyla Rose, thank you for being such a loving spirit and making this an experience full of happiness and smiles.

     

    Read More
  • Crystal Molyneaux

     

    Name: Crystal Molyneaux

    Hometown: Woodbridge

    Major: Psychology

     

    It has been a long road with plenty of hard work, late nights, and hours away from my son because I had to study or work on homework. But it was worth it.

     

    Read More
  • Catherine Oliver

     

    Name: Catherine Oliver

    Hometown: Monmouth Junction

    Major: Labor Studies and Employment Relations

     

    When I visited my friends at Rutgers, people would always ask me if I was a student. I made a promise: One day I would have a Rutgers degree.

     

    Read More
  • Nafeesa Onque

     

    Name: Nafeesa Onque

    Hometown: Newark

    Major: Social Work

     

    My daughter Nia is my entire inspiration and without her I would not be the woman that I am today.

     

    Read More
  • Kendis Pacholec

     

    Name: Kendis Pacholec

    Hometown: Tom's River

    Major: German Language and Literature

     

    I am finally crossing the finish line with my 3-year-old daughter and the rest of my incredibly supportive family!

     

    Read More
  • Natalia Patel

     

    Name: Natalia Patel

    Hometown: Montville

    Major: Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

     

    My three amazing children are my biggest accomplishments in life. I hope to inspire them the way my parents inspire me. 

     

    Read More
  • Christina Rescate

     

    Name: Christina Rescate

    Hometown: Morganville

    Major: English

     

    To have my family present to witness this milestone, especially my mother Lorraine and daughter Sabrina, is the best possible way I could imagine spending Mother’s Day.

     

    Read More
  • Leslie Reyes

     

    Name: Leslie Reyes

    Hometown: New Brunswick

    Major: Labor Studies and Employment Relations

     

    I knew that my degree meant increasing my daughter's chances of earning a degree.

     

    Read More
  • Margaret Rodriguez

     

    Name: Margaret Rodriguez

    Hometown: Perth Amboy

    Major: Psychology

     

    Seeing my son's tender face every morning inspired me to do my best to give him a better life.

     

    Read More
  • Lisa S. Scott

     

    Name: Lisa S. Scott

    Hometown: Lakewood

    Major: Africana Studies

     

    I am ecstatic about this accomplishment and I know that it’s the stepping stone for the next level. Dreams are made to come true.

     

    Read More
  • Marija Stojanovska

     

    Name: Marija Stojanovska

    Hometown: Edison

    Major: Linguistics

     

    My senior year included a lot of sleepless nights. But I am receiving my degree as scheduled. Now, I want to inspire my son and ignite his wildest dreams.

     

    Read More
  • Kathleen Vina

     

    Name: Kathleen Vina

    Hometown: Red Bank

    Major: Labor Studies and Employment Relations

     

    The Rutgers campus became my son’s favorite weekend get-away. It usually ended with a stop at Barnes & Noble and a walk around Voorhees Mall, our favorite hang-out spots.

     

    Read More
  • Nicole Wesen

     

    Name: Nicole Wesen

    Hometown: Freehold

    Major: American Studies

     

    The driving force that kept me going was to set an example for my children.

     

    Read More

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