There are mothers fortunate enough not to have to work. Although they may focus their attention on their homes, families and church assignments, some find that they have extra time on their hands. Some get involved in community service projects and volunteer programs.
Speaking of the direction her life took, she says, “I was going through a very deep personal crisis that affected my self-esteem. I had always wanted to have a degree. I used to sit at the school waiting for my children to finish school. I have always loved the energy of children and of my own children. I [felt that I] was definitely a teacher at heart.”
And so Melissa took a step towards improving her self-esteem. She enrolled with UNISA, deciding to study through long distance education so that she could be at home while studying. There would be less pressure on her at home. It took her six years to study for a Bachelors Education degree.
Of her studies, she says: “My studying was not an easy journey. I have an autoimmune disease that can make me very ill. I have written exams with fevers and while feeling very ill. In my last year I decided to do my last 12 modules. It was a very difficult year. I was diagnosed with a PASH breast tumour that was growing and I needed surgery to have it removed. I was also held up in my garage with my young son, Paul. This was three weeks before exams.” During her studies, her husband, Warner, was the stake president.
Melissa says, “My children and husband have been my support all along. I had many Januaries when I felt inadequate and didn’t even know if I could complete my degree. 40 modules for a degree seemed totally unattainable. But the struggling was well worth it. Being a mother has helped me understand the children that I teach. I can feel and see the ailments of a child through different eyes.”
“When I received a communication from UNISA about having finished my degree I just couldn’t believe I had completed such a journey. Being capped wearing the graduation gown was amazing. Over the years I never thought I was really worth much, but doing my degree has been like climbing Mount Everest for me. It has been easy in many ways and very difficult in other ways. Doing a degree while having a young family and my husband serving as stake president was very difficult. I saw my degree as an opportunity to enrich my life by giving myself a gift.
“I love the following scripture: The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth (D&C 93:36 36). When we pass on we will be able to take all that we know with us.
President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote, “Education unlocks the door of opportunities. You will rise according to your education. Work at it. Sacrifice for it. Do it. Pray about it, and the Lord will bless you. You will see yourselves rise and become men and women of strength and capacity.' Melissa has done this. She improved her self-esteem while following the Lord’s injunction to “seek learning, even by study” (D&C 88:118). She could have continued sitting at her children’s school waiting for them, but she chose to use her time wisely and is now qualified as a teacher.