The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NW student finds resolve through TCC


By Devin Simkins/reporter

A typical day for NW Campus student Ashley Hays starts the night before. 

Hays has two restaurant jobs, attends classes and mothers 4-year-old twins. She has been taking classes since 2008.

NW student Ashley Hays’ return to school came about as a way to set an example for her twins, who are 4 years old. Photo by Stephanie Pauken/The Collegian
NW student Ashley Hays’ return to school came about as a way to set an example for her twins, who are 4 years old.
Photo by Stephanie Pauken/The Collegian

Her planner explodes off the pages and shows little time for meals and sleep. Between assignments, work shifts, children activities and daily to-do lists, Hays has little time for anything else.

“My planner makes people sick to look at, but I have to have it,” she said. “If I don’t have my planner, I get anxiety because I need to know what’s going on for the rest of the month, not just the rest of the day.”

Hays struggles like others on campus. She balances her life the best she can to achieve her goals. Hays did not take classes seriously in the beginning. Her GPA fell to a 1.2 once she lost the urge to try.

“I just quit going for no reason and decided that I didn’t have to go to school,” she said. “I lost my financial aid, and I just decided that I wasn’t going to go back.”

Then Hays had children, and everything changed.

After having her twins, she wrote a FAFSA appeal explaining why she needed the financial aid reinstated.

“I realized if I wanted to be a bartender forever, then I could keep doing what I was doing, or I could go back to school and have a career,” she said.

Hays raised her GPA to a 3.0 in two semesters by retaking classes. Now she aims for the dean’s list.

“I am so tired,” she said. “I am working two jobs, and then I have both of my kids.”

Planning is everything, according to NW counselor Lisa Allison.

“Balance is one of the hardest things for all of us to achieve,” Allison said. “Plan by keeping a monthly and weekly calendar and a daily to-do list. Taking time to be proactive and planning your day helps to give tangible goals of what you want to accomplish.”

Hays has a nightly routine before going to sleep. She showers, lays out clothes for her and the twins, plans breakfast and gets their bags plus her school bag ready.

“I would go to sleep late and wake up at 5:30 a.m.,” she said. “I was usually like two minutes late every single day to history, but I had classes from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.”

Hays spends an hour or two with her children after classes on days she has to work one of her jobs at night. Depending on which job, she would get home anywhere between 10:30 p.m. and 3 a.m.

“On those late nights, I would have to do homework at work,” she said.

Allison said to use time wisely.

“Make use of down time,” she said. “Twenty minutes spent working on assignments or chores is better than nothing. Once you get started, your momentum will build.”

Between both jobs, Logan’s Roadhouse and World of Beer, Hays works 30 to 40 hours a week.

“My managers are all very understanding,” she said. “If I need a day off, I can get one. The only way to be able to juggle it all is to have a good support system.”

Kristen Hays, her mom, and Dayne Weaver, her boyfriend, help her the most with balancing everything.

“I support her in everything she does, but especially her schooling,” Weaver said. “I don’t even think she should be taking a break over the summer, but she probably needs it. She’s been working so hard.”

Weaver is proud of how far she has come and what she continues to do. So is her mother.

“My mom’s always helping,” she said. “She will come over to my house so that [the twins] don’t have to leave their environment and put them to bed. But at the same time, if I have to stay up late doing online classes because I’ve worked all day, then Dayne will put them to bed or help out.”

Hays said the hard part is letting people do it for her. She wants to be the one who does all of those things all the time.

“Without him and my mom, there’s no way I could go to school,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to afford any kind of day care.”

Before, the twins would have to be in bed before Hays could get homework done. Now that they are getting older, she said they understand more about what school is.

“At first, they would try to sit on my lap and want me to hold them, play on the computer and hit the keyboard, and I would freak out because they just erased my paper,” she said, laughing. “Now, I can sit at the kitchen table and ask them to play quietly.”

Hays wants the twins to grow up knowing what their mom does for a living. She wants a career.

“I want them to want to aspire to be like me,” she said. “So I have to do things that are worth duplicating.”

Weaver knows she needs encouragement sometimes and is willing to help give it.

“I will always stand behind her pushing her when she needs it,” he said. “Sometimes we all need a little push from the people that love us. But it’s only because I know she can. And she will.”

Managing work, school and family has come at a price. She has lost friends and a social life, Hays said. But it’s worth it for a greater goal.

“I know it’s kind of contradictory to what everyone always tells you about living in the moment and being in the present,” she said. “If you want to survive going to school with everything, you can’t live in the moment.”

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