Being a mother and a student are full-time jobs on their own, and Lori White has managed to do both at the same time during her years at the University of New Mexico.
White, who is graduating with a Master’s degree in Health Administration from the School of Public Administration, is now able to share her graduation with her daughter, Alea White, as they both graduate from their respective programs this semester.
“As a single parent for all of her life, I can remember having to bring her to campus in her stroller as I was finishing up my undergraduate degree in communications,” White said of her daughter, who is receiving bachelor’s degrees in both psychology and journalism and mass communications.
In becoming a parent during her time at UNM, White found a new motivation to complete her education so that she could provide the best life possible for her daughter. As both of them have continued in their education, White says that she has emphasized the importance of education, particularly at the college level, making sure that her daughter will have every opportunity to create a happy and successful life of her own.
White is familiar with UNM, having found it to be a welcoming environment during both her graduate and undergraduate years. As she worked to complete her master’s degree over the past two years, she has been able to pass that same spirit along to her fellow students.
With more than twenty years of experience working at Presbyterian Healthcare Services, she has provided guidance about both school and career paths not only to her daughter, but also to younger students who have not had the benefit of going to college before. As well as giving guidance to others, White said she has found no shortage of support from the faculty at UNM.
“I have been truly blessed during my graduate program to have some very awesome professors that have enriched not only my educational endeavors but that have also had a profound effect on my personal life through the friendships we’ve developed,” said White of her bonds with the instructors in her program.
Most importantly, she said going to school and graduating at the same time as her daughter has helped them to strengthen their already close bond.
“She truly is my best friend, and although we didn’t plan to graduate at the same time, this is huge for both of us, we are beyond blessed and grateful,” White said. “Also, with both of us working full time and going to school full time, we understand each other’s struggles of balancing school, work and home life.”
Now that she has completed her Master’s degree, White says that she is looking forward to taking a break before returning to work.
“I hope to take a much needed vacation to a tropical destination,” she said. “It’s been a long two years.”
With the experience that the graduate program has given her, White hopes to achieve personal and professional growth in her job as the program manager in Presbyterian Healthcare’s Population Health department. She looks forward to further exploring the opportunities that her career at Presbyterian has to offer.
As the end of the semester approaches, both Lori and Alea are busy with the end of classes and preparations for graduation day. Throughout all of this, and throughout the challenges that have come with focusing on school, careers and family, it is clear that their strong connection is the most important thing to them, as well as a source of motivation in their endeavors in the classroom and beyond.
“The journey has not been an easy one, but well worth it,” White said. “I am truly proud of (Alea’s) accomplishments, and overjoyed that we will be able to share and celebrate this huge milestone together.”
Veronica Apodaca is a culture writer for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @veeapodaca.