With the ease and availability of higher education in today’s fast-paced world, it’s never too late to add value to your career. With help and support of family and friends, teachers who are willing to assist where possible, and the availability of tertiary education online anything is possible. It takes hard work and dedication but can still be done.
While this does can obviously apply to everyone, it applies more to women. After childbearing, it makes it far more difficult to get back into the workforce, let alone going back for higher education. There’s something of a demand for mothers to either be at home with the children or not have time to go back to education.
University of Life and Beyond
I graduated from high school in 2005 and went to university from 2005 to 2007, and then had my son in 2008. I didn’t go back to school until 2010, which is when I feel like I first officially “started” my career. It was tough as I was working full-time at the Chamber of Commerce for event planning and advertising and was doing almost 60 hours a week of just pure work, with full time studying on top of that.
It may sound like something only Wonder Woman is capable of doing, but that’s definitely not the case. It was a lot of hard work to accomplish and that’s not something that I’m going to deny, but the selflessness of friends, family and teachers helped to get me there. If I was the hero, they were the sidekicks.
There were many supportive teachers that I had throughout the years who had exceptional work ethic and with their schedules, were incredibly flexible helping me to achieve. It was instrumental in being able to allow me to complete everything. I was a single mother battling with custody, going to school and trying to get a jumpstart on a career.
My parents, loved ones and close friends created an exceptional support structure for me which allowed me to focus on my career and my personal development, to give my family the long-term care they deserved. It let me stay focused and allowed me to commit myself to the studies.
Putting Aside the Guilt
One of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to deal with, is the guilt that I felt. It was almost as if I was pushing my son aside to focus on myself. I knew that in a moment where I wasn’t working, I could be playing with my son, but instead I chose to study, or partake in a group project. These were never easy decisions to make.
The thing that I kept trying to remember in my head is that ultimately, this was for him. I’m adding value to my professional self which will be beneficial in the long run. I’d rather be in a position to send my son to college and give him the life he deserves than putting it all aside for a few more bedtime stories.
It’s Never Too Late
Flexibility exists in higher education, more than you may know. There are understanding teachers, and anyone can accomplish their goals if they have a schedule and adhere to it. In 2012, I finished my bachelor’s degree while holding down 3 different jobs in 4 years, while finishing my degree at night. I decided to get my master’s and an MBA too.
Don’t be too shy to ask for help. And don’t feel guilty for pushing yourself to achieve more. It can be done with a solid support structure around you. Always challenge yourself, it’s something I say to my team on a weekly basis.
Kristelle Siarza is a digital communications and marketing specialist with over a decade years of experience. In 2014, she founded Siarza Social Digital – a 360 degree digital communications firm that pivots on innovation, curation and creativity. The company has grown to 20 team members working globally for the digital marketing agency.
Kristelle has consulted for and assisted several organizations with digital marketing and communications strategies for various industries, like health, finance, cannabis, retail and government. Her team has helped clients generate millions of impressions and SiarzaSD’s award-winning campaigns have received local and national recognition.
As a Filipino-American, she is one of Albuquerque, NM’s youngest business owners of minority status and one of the New Mexico’s rising stars. In 2016, Kristelle was honored as one of NM’s ‘Forty Under 40,’ 2019 she received the “Women of Influence” award, and Siarza Social Digital was honored with a ‘Flying 40 Falcon Award’ as one of the fastest growing companies in the state.
Kristelle believes in giving back to the community with time and effort. She currently serves as the president of the board for the Domestic Violence Resource Center, as sits as a board member for the Grief Resource Center and the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.
In her spare time, she’s a sub-par competitive kickball player that volunteers her time with various charities outside of her board work focused on children and Asian American communities. She has a baritone-playing, anime-loving son named Johnathan, and incredibly patient and loving boyfriend named Spencer.