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These 9 Moms Achieved Their Educational Goals With Florida Tech

Being a parent can be a full-time job. So, adding school into the mix, especially if you also work full-time, can be a tough task. We’re shining a light on nine graduates who managed to balance motherhood and everything else while achieving their educational goals.

Janessa Aarsvold, BA Business Administration/Management

Janessa Aarsvold has had to overcome a lot to earn her degree, including being on disability, undergoing multiple surgeries, and balancing a full-time job and parenthood. Not only did Aarsvold walk across the stage – she graduated Magna Cum Laude and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

So many did not think I would be able to juggle work and school while raising an autistic daughter (who is amazing and brilliant). Honestly, all one needs is the will to succeed and the support of people who love you. Without my family, especially my amazing husband and loving daughter – this would have been much more difficult. They both helped me through every step of the way.”

The 44-year-old is proud of herself for “finally” accomplishing her educational goals. She’s graduating college the same year her daughter is starting!

Nicole Curiel, BA Aviation Management

After trying community college, a non-accredited university and another private university, Nicole Curiel finally found an education that provided her the education she needed and the flexibility to achieve it.

 “Online learning allows for more flexibility in time, as you are able to get your studies done from home or work, and it makes a great difference when you have children or other life obligations.” 

The single mother plans on joining the Air Force upon graduation to help her aviation career take off.

Tiffani Smith, BA Applied Psychology/Forensic Psychology

Tiffani Smith realized that, after years of raising her children and delaying her dreams, it was time to take control of her life.

It wasn’t until my youngest child was entering her senior year of high school that I sat back and reassessed my life. Here I was in my early 40s, married with three children, and working at a job that, although I enjoyed, was not my passion. Not that I would change anything about my life because I’m happy and blessed, but at that moment, I realized that I had let years go by without keeping promises I made to myself while making sure everyone else was happy.”

While she was on medical leave, she decided she would use that time to earn her degree in her dream field, forensic psychology. She was able to lean on the people she supported for years – her family.

“My husband and three daughters have been my cheerleaders during those times when I didn’t think I could go on.”

Smith plans on using her degree to further her career in this new field.

Audra Rutherford, MBA

Audra Rutherford earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration through Florida Tech’s Fast Track program, which allows students to combine credits from the degrees and graduate in a quicker timeframe. Throughout her academic journey, Rutherford experienced difficulties but persisted and graduated summa cum laude.

“Over the course of my college career at Florida Tech, I have taken care of my husband through five major surgeries while also caring for my daughter, all while working full-time. Without Florida Tech, obtaining my degrees through all that would not have been possible, nor would it have been possible to maintain a 4.0 GPA either. While it did not come without its difficulties, I truly give credit to Florida Tech for their superb online business program and their true passion for helping their students achieve their goals.”

Rutherford plans on using her business knowledge to further the family business.

Samantha Ramdhanie, BA Applied Psychology

This single mom earned her psychology degree to make a better life for her son.

“I went back to school because I have a son that I’m fighting for, and I have so many goals I want to accomplish in life. So, this education was the right choice for me.”

Ramdhanie started her degree on-campus but transferred online because she wanted to better balance school, work and parenting. She plans on continuing her education by pursuing law school in the future.

Lyncoya Moore, MA Organizational Leadership

Lyncoya Moore chose the Master’s in Organizational Leadership program after researching other student success stories from Florida Tech. Not only did she start off her graduate degree as a parent – she gave birth during the program!

“I have a husband, and four children: three girls and one boy, whom I had the blessing of carrying and birthing during my degree program. My children are my ‘why’ and my husband motivates me to keep going when I feel like throwing in the towel.”

Moore plans on using her leadership knowledge to grow her career and continue her path to advancement.

Eden Priela, MSIT


Eden Priela was a corrections officer who wanted to pursue a career in information technology. After earning her Master’s in Information Technology from Florida Tech, she was able to get the career of her dreams. Her daughter was her inspiration:

“My daughter Jasmine inspires me to succeed. I wanted a better life for her and I knew obtaining my degree would do just that.”

Priela now works as a cybersecurity consultant for one of the Big 4.

Jody Thrash, MBA Project Management

Jody Thrash also found inspiration in her children for earning her master’s degree.

“My kids are my inspiration. When I see all the potential and passion they have, it makes me want to be an inspiration right back to them. So I work hard to be a good example for them. I want to provide them with more and, to do so, I need to have a successful career that I am happy with.”

Thrash’s daughters were able to attend commencement and watch their mom walk across the stage.

Jessica Rodriguez, BA Business Administration/Computer Information Systems

Jessica Rodriguez chose to earn her degree online so she could balance parenting with other responsibilities.

“The most important factors in my decision to choose Florida Tech were that my kids were young, I had a full-time job and I am very active in my church. I needed the flexibility that online school offered.”

Rodriguez relied on her family for support to successfully accomplish her degree program.

“I would have to say that my family collectively is my support system. My husband would make dinner, tend to the kids and do many other things when I was unavailable to do so. My kids would make themselves food, wash their own clothes, clean and give me time when I needed to get homework done. There were even times when my mom would bring me food, clean my house, wash my dishes and take my kids just so that I could concentrate on my work. I would not have been able to see this degree through if it wasn’t for them.”

We find inspiration from all of our graduates! Read more student spotlights here.

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