2021 will be a special year for Marhaennia English, the Indonesian diaspora in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
This housewife who is familiarly called Nia in May earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hood College, Frederick, Maryland state. This 43-year-old woman even graduated cum laude.
“I really like learning, right, that’s number one, so even though I’m old I always like to learn,” Nia said when VOA met her at her home in Gaithersburg. “Second is to hone (brain) well, and stay up to date,” said the woman who majored in Global Studies.
Face-to-face and online courses are conducted on campuses where most of the students are 20 years younger. Nia’s presence as a non-traditional student actually gave a different color to the class.
“My colleagues and I think that non-traditional students have great motivation,” Scott Pincikowski, a professor at Hood College, told the BBC. FLY. “Nia knows exactly what she wants,” he added.
Before graduating, this woman who studied gender studies won a grant of $10,000 or more than Rp140 million which she used to set up a kilogram washing kiosk in Depok which was run by a trans woman community.
Support from family
His brilliant achievements cannot be separated from the support of his family, especially his three children who have been independent since childhood, so that he can focus on studying.
“The most important thing is strong intention and time management. Of course also delegate tasks to children, so we also teach the children, after school this and that should be done. So the benefits are not only for me,” said Nia.
Family support is also an important factor in the academic journey of Dya Ishak, the Indonesian diaspora in Bethesda, state of Maryland. This mother of one child is currently undergoing a Master of Business Administration program at American University, Washington DC.
“For now, during college, I divide my duties (with my husband) almost equally,” said Dya FLY. “The one who cleans the husband, I take care of the children more.”
Children Become the Biggest Motivator
This former program manager at a museum quit his job to focus on studying and taking care of his children. He said his toddler son was his driving force for learning.
“For me, the biggest motivation is wanting to be a role model for my children, I want to show that ‘hey mama can be like this’ and I want to be an independent woman,” said the 33-year-old woman.
Dya said that after the program ends in September next year, he plans to return to the workforce. Meanwhile, Nia said that she would continue to post-graduate level.
These two women have proven that being a mother is not a barrier to continue to increase their potential.
“Even if it’s not the college of choice, I think every woman in any phase of their life needs to be stimulated and develop themselves,” said Dya.
Whether it’s a lecture or a course, the most important thing is “strong will and time management,” said Nia. Age is not a barrier, because “it’s never too late to learn,” he concluded. [vm/nr]