Thirty years stretch between the day Geniel Childs took her first class at BYU and the spring afternoon when she graduated. But Geniel doesn’t mind the gap – she is simply happy to be done.
Geniel started her degree in 1975. After completing two semesters and two terms, she got married and made the difficult decision to quit school.
“I decided that one of us needed to earn money to exist,” says Geniel, now 48. “And so I stopped going and put my husband through school. But I so much wanted to finish.”
For the next few years, Geniel worked and had two children. A love of learning prompted her to return to school after her second child was born, but the balancing act was too tough.
“Life just got really intense and I had to put it on hold again,” she says.
During the following years, Geniel had three more children and kept busy with the day-to-day rigors of family life. Although she was content, Geniel always had a goal to finish school in the back of her mind.
“It was always a hope that I would finish,” she says.
In 2000, Geniel decided to give life to that hope and returned to her studies. She heard about BYU Independent Study from a friend and decided to pursue a bachelor’s of general studies degree with an emphasis in psychology.
“I loved the flexibility,” Geniel says. “You can go at your own pace, and I really enjoyed that part. I still wanted my primary focus to be on my family.”
Geniel graduated in April 2005 and attended commencement with her son-in-law, who was also graduating.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “There were times in there I was struggling to balance everything. But I’m so glad I did it.”
Now, Geniel is preparing for her next educational hurdle: graduate school. She wants to complete a master’s in marriage and family therapy and eventually teach marriage preparation classes.
“If I can do it, anybody can,” she says.
GENIEL’S TIPS FOR GOING BACK TO SCHOOL
1. Get the support of your family. “All my kids ended up helping me at one point or another with my school stuff,” Geniel Childs says.
2. Make sure the timing is right.
3. Find a program that is flexible and fits your needs.