Amanda VandenAkker

Amanda VandenAkker

When I started my family I put my education on hiatus. Finishing college was an important goal for me but so was having children. At the time it didn't seem possible to do both. So I chose motherhood. I haven't found anything more rewarding, more frustrating, more humbling, and more joyful than being a mother, and I have never regretted dedicating my life to my children. But I'll admit I was afraid that if I waited for them to be grown I may not be able to bring myself to go back to school. When BYU-Idaho started the Pathway program in New York I leaped at the opportunity. Participating in that meant I could take part in the online degree program without ever setting foot in a classroom on campus. I was able to incorporate school into my life in a way that didn't overwhelm the rest of it. I gave birth to two of my children while going to college. I moved my family across the country and my classroom came with me. My husband went back to school for a masters degree, working a full time job during the day and going to school at least two nights a week, but I could still go too because class came to me when my children were sleeping in the next room. It wasn't easy, but it was possible. Now I can say that I am a BYU-Idaho Alumni, and I couldn't be more proud or grateful.

When people found out that I was graduating they all had the same question, "What are you going to do now?" To that I have one answer. I am going to be a mother. I am going to use my degree to raise intelligent, kind, faithful children. My education has not just made changes in me; it filters through me. An education has made me a better person on so many levels, and in turn a better mother. What is a mother really? A teacher, a doctor, an accountant, a nutritionist, a therapist, a referee and countless other professions all rolled into one. Mothers are tasked with the responsibility of raising God's children; nurturing them, caring for them, and helping them to realize their divine potential. I doubt there is any other job more deserving of a degree.