Local Mom Awarded For Academic Achievement
by Maren Larson
December 07, 2011 10:04 PM
Life is rarely calm in a mother's life; but while Erika Busch cradles her son, Kellen, as he sleeps, it's one of those rare moments. Especially when just a few months ago, Erika was trying to raise her son while working on the Navajo Indian reservation as a flight paramedic.
"Your whole life revolved around the pager and when it did go off I had 20 minutes to get dressed, deal with Kellen, and get to the airport at the clinic in town,” said Erika.
Before Kellen was born, Erika enjoyed the demands of her job in Arizona; working twenty 24 hour shifts each month. While she was on call as a paramedic she found she had plenty of time to further her education through online classes.
Erika chose Oregon State University's online degree program and choose to major in human development and family sciences. Then, Kellen was born; and the balancing act got harder. Especially when there was no daycare available on the reservation.
"It was just getting really hard,” said Erika. “I would go days at a time without seeing him due to my on call schedule and missing holidays and that just wasn't working.”
So Erika moved her family back to her home state of South Dakota, but the busy lifestyle didn't end. Erika opened up an in-home daycare and it’s a change that she says makes her a better mom.
"I deal with Kellen all day with the kids. Then, when the kids go home, he and I have a couple of quiet hours of mom time,” said Erika. “And then after Kellen goes to bed, it's time to hit the books every night.”
The time Erika gets to spend at home with Kellen is crucial. Kellen is developmentally disabled and receives therapy once a week.
It's making a big difference.
Kellen, now 22 months old, just learned how to walk and is, now, learning how to speak and feed himself.
"This allows me to also deal with his therapy when that needs to be done,” said Erika. “And my degree is related to working with children so this was a win-win situation.”
It's a busy routine but it is paying off. Erika's academic advisor nominated her for the Outstanding Nontraditional Student through Oregon State, which is an award that recognizes a student with a lot on their plate while still excelling academically; and just when the she was about to give up on finishing her degree, Erika got the call that she had won.
“That kind of gave me the boost I needed to keep going,” said Erika.
Eventually, Erika says she would like to become a children's councilor. She says she is learning a lot through her online program, Kellen is one of her greatest teachers.
"I am getting my degree and I am also getting a better understanding of what my son's needs are as well,” said Erika.
A motivation that fuels even deeper than an award.
Erika Busch says she will finish her online degree through Oregon State in another year and a half. She says she is using the Outstanding Nontraditional Student Award to help her get into grad school where she hopes to master in social work to become a children’s' councilor.
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