Working mother proves it’s never too late to complete your degree

Working mother proves it’s never too late to complete your degree

“I never thought I’d go back and finish school, but I did,” Gazala Momin says. “And it was a great experience.” (Photo by Nan Li.)

Gazala Momin grew up Chicago, just a few blocks from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus. She graduated from Senn High School in the 1990s and then started college.

But after getting married and having a child, she put aside her studies to raise her son and work part-time as a paralegal while her husband finished college and went to medical school. (He is now in the U.S. Army, completing his residency in Texas.)

A few years ago, Momin decided it was time for her to return to college—and she graduated May 4 from Loyola’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies with a bachelor’s degree in management and a certificate in paralegal studies.

Here, she talks about life as an adult learner, why Loyola was the perfect fit for her, and what it felt like to finally earn her degree.

What brought you to Loyola?
I actually got accepted at a few other colleges, but I wasn’t comfortable with them. They just weren’t a good fit for me. So I did some online research and found Loyola. And the more I looked into it, the more I realized that the program was exactly what I was looking for.

How so?
I didn’t want to start college all over again, and a lot of universities won’t give you credit for classes you’ve already taken. Loyola was different. They gave me credit for everything I had taken, which was great. I wanted a school that would take me on my terms—and Loyola did.

What was it like juggling work and life and school? ­
There were days that were definitely a challenge. I’d go to work downtown, leave to pick up my son from school, take him home, and then go back downtown for classes. I think the professors at Loyola realize that most of us are juggling a lot of different things, so they give you a manageable amount of work. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either.

How did it feel to get your degree after all these years?
It was great. I was very excited. My son was excited, too. He was like, “Mom, you did it!”

Any big plans now that you’ve graduated?
I’m thinking about going to law school, and this gave me a little idea of what it would be like. I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, and I’d love to practice family law. 

And finally, what advice would you give someone who is thinking about going back to college?
You can do it. It takes some time and effort, but it’s possible. I never thought I’d go back and finish school, but I did. And it was a great experience. 

• Watch another SCPS graduate discuss his time at Loyola—and find out what his degree has allowed him to accomplish.