It’s a “Ruff” life

SCCC student juggles between school work and teaching her son

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Courtesy photo

Sophomore Shaina Ruff has taken the “teacher” role during these hard times. She continues teaching not only herself, but also her 11-year-old son, Mekhia.

By Denise Perez, Seward County Community College

Online schooling has been difficult for many college students. Whether that be struggling with zoom calls, bad internet connection or just no motivation. Many of can relate to these situations but one that not everyone can relate to is being a stay-at-home student while also being a child’s teacher. 

Shaina Ruff, who is originally from Southern Colorado, is not only a sophomore at Seward County Community College but also a mother to an 11-year-old son, Mekhai. 

Being 31-years-old, Ruff recalled how it overwhelmed her being a new 20-year-old mom and thinking about going back to school while raising a baby. Many women, Ruff said, become discouraged in continuing to reach for a higher education.

“When I found out I was pregnant I felt like I wasn’t ready, but I believe having my son made me more determined in life and in my goals,” Ruff said. 

Women have a 78%-86% chance in becoming pregnant around the ages of 19-21. Ruff was one of those women and hasn’t let it stop her yet. 

“I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do in my life so I didn’t want to go to school if I didn’t know what I wanted to go for,” Ruff said.

Ruff was motivated to go back to school after the passing of her father in February 2018. Getting a higher education was something Ruff needed not only herself, but also for her son. She needed to show him that “hard work and determination will take him far in life.” 

When I found out I was pregnant I felt like I wasn’t ready, but I believe having my son made me more determined in life and in my goals”

— Shaina Ruff

“Having determination in your hard work will help you accomplish your dreams,” Ruff said.

The mother had no idea school was about to get harder when she went on spring break. That’s when the coronavirus outbreak began to impact Kansas and college campus were closed, moving courses online. Her son’s school district was next to move classes online. Then, the governor’s stay-at-home order came. Life for this mother changed — drastically.

It’s been difficult to find activities to occupy themselves. Ruff’s son is currently a fifth grader and just like many other students, started distance learning. As an online student herself, one of the most difficult adjustments for Ruff’ was becoming a “teacher” to her son in one way or another … while working a job and doing her own schoolwork. 

Ruff is currently a full-time certified nurse’s assistant (CNA) and has been doing her own schoolwork before and after her job. She looks over her Zoom lectures before work and does her homework after work. Zoom is a video chatting app that many schools have resorted to as a teaching tool. Teachers film their lectures for the students to attend or review later. 

Even after she teaches herself her own homework, she makes sure she spends at least an hour helping her son with schoolwork she finds for him online. Although her son has not started online classes, Ruff has been trying to show her son the importance of education by looking for schoolwork for him to do during this break. 

“I try to do an hour of school for myself everyday, sometimes it takes more,” Ruff said.

She mentioned that exhaustion comes not only from her job, but also from doing her schoolwork and helping her son recap his education, which takes about an hour. This new transition to online schooling has caused feelings of slack and inactiveness for Ruff. 

“I want to slack off and put off his one hour of schooling for another day,” Ruff confessed. 

However, Ruff decided that it’s best to not put it off because she understands that just like her education, his one hour of classwork is a crucial part of his learning and growth.  

Balancing can be a crucial part of someone’s life who is involved in many activities throughout their day. The two have been able to work on school together and even when Ruff needs a break, she steps up and helps her son when he has questions. 

She is currently majoring in psychology and plans to get her degree in occupational therapy. She is happy to have someone in her life who is able to look up to her and who she can strive to do better for. 

This story was originally published on The Crusader on April 8, 2020.