Triple Graduate Splits Time as Master’s Student and Mother of Four
September 17, 2013 - When Crystal Edwards introduces herself, one of the first things she talks about is her children.
“My oldest is Tyeshia, next is Jamar, third is Karron and finally Layla,” said Edwards.
For Edwards, a 30-year-old Lyons resident, the children—15, 13, 4 and 1 years old—were always the priority, but that didn’t mean becoming a stay-at-home mom. Quite the opposite, in fact.
“These four people are my motivation every day,” said Edwards. “They are the reason I made the decision to go back to school: so I can provide them with a better life.”
Edwards graduated from Toombs County High School in 2002. Edwards wanted to fulfill the promise of the college-prep track she had followed in high school, but there were parental obligations to consider.
“I decided to go to college near home so that I would not leave behind my two children for their father to raise alone,” said Edwards.
Edwards chose Southeastern Technical College and enrolled in the school’s accounting program, starting classes in October 2003. In less than a year, Edwards had earned her degree and started classes in another program. And in September 2005, she earned her second Associate of Applied Science degree, this one in management and supervisory development.
Along the way, Edwards worked as a work-study student, assisting the financial aid office, bookstore, receptionists desk, and library. She also became part of the National Technical Honor Society and spoke at one of her graduations. In 2006, she began working part-time for the STC library. After all this, and with two young children, it still wasn’t enough.
“After receiving those two associate degrees I thought, ‘Why stop here?’” said Edwards. “Being my kids’ role model is very important in my life and my education decisions will play a role in their education decisions.”
Edwards enrolled at Troy University, through their online learning program, and began studying business administration. Meanwhile, her work for STC continued into 2007, when she found work closer to her fields of study. An accounting clerk position had opened at Lower Oconee Community Hospital, and Edwards got exactly what she was looking for.
Just two years after that, Edwards had her third child, and two years after that, she added a third degree to her wall: a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration. Three degrees and three children in, Edwards decided to keep things even, and in 2012, she had her fourth child and set out to earn a master’s degree.
In less than a year, Edwards expects to receive her Master of Science in Human Resource Management—her fourth degree in nine years.
“It’s been a long and hard road to travel, but now I can finally say I see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Edwards.
After graduation, Edwards wants to work in a management firm or give back to the system that helped her by teaching classes online. But recalling where she was in 2002, Edwards hopes that her experience can encourage.
“I have a message for all my young girls and women: if you feel that your life cannot get any better because you have a child or children, take a look at my story and say, ‘If she can, I can.’”