MARQUETTE - Kristy Walker-Treacy and her husband, Michael Treacy, are both 33. They have three kids - Collin, 8, Darby, 6, and Molly, 3. They have work, housework, time with their kids and a thousand other things to worry about during the day.
And then they add in their homework.
Both Walker-Treacy and Treacy are also full-time students at Northern Michigan University, working to complete undergraduate degrees for the first time in their lives.
They’re students at Northern Michigan University, but Kristy Walker-Treacy and her husband, Michael Treacy, also juggle housework, work and kids as they finish their undergraduate degrees. At left, the family, including kids Darby, 6, Collin, 8, and Molly, 3, are seen on campus. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
"I didn't want to be a waitress anymore," Walker-Treacy said. "I just wanted stable work. You can't make it without a degree anymore."
Now with three semesters remaining in Northern's nursing program, Walker-Treacy originally applied to a nursing program in the Kalamazoo area, where the couple was living. Unable to secure a spot there, she applied to Northern and was accepted.
"We visited once for a couple hours. We said we could live here," Treacy said.
On a leap of faith, the couple moved with their three kids without knowing anyone in the area in 2008.
Treacy, who was working in factory management, was unable to find work in the area and also enrolled in NMU and will be completing an associate's degree in English in December. He then intends to go back for a bachelor's degree.
Although they came to NMU not knowing much about the area, both said the move has worked out well for the family.
"We wanted to get out of the city with the kids," Walker-Treacy said. "It's great here."
Juggling their own educations with their other responsibilities, however, is a challenge their younger classmates might not have to worry about.
"There's so many," Walker-Treacy said of the challenges the family faces. "Time, money, managing your time... Every day we're like we don't know how we do it."
"We really wouldn't be able to do any of it without the friends and family we have," Walker said, adding that his parents followed them to the area to help out with the kids.
Despite those challenges, however, both said they felt comfortable being students, enjoying their classes and studies. Being slightly older than their classmates, they said, may even give them some advantage.
"If I was coming in at their age, I wouldn't have made it," Treacy said.
"(You have) a lot more confidence. You know what you want," she said. "We know the alternative to not finishing your education.
"This (juggling school and other responsibilities) is a temporary struggle, but (not finishing) would have been a lifetime struggle."
One of the benefits both Treacy and Walker-Treacy said they found at NMU was the close connection to the outside community, allowing them to network and make connections that will help them secure jobs after they graduate, hopefully allowing them to stay in the area they now consider home.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.