Courtesy of Crystal Roy
It is a rare night for 40-year-old Crystal Roy.
She has the house to herself. Her daughter is at a sleepover and her husband, Jerry, is out with their son. Besides the occasional bark of her Chihuahua, Mickey, the house is silent.
It’s an opportune time for Roy to do her homework. A third-year student, Roy is currently taking both online and in-person classes. Roy is one of the 4,484 reentry students currently enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College.
Roy is the first in her family and one of the first amongst her friends to go to college. Instead of attending college after graduating high school, she went right to work. “At 18, I was on my own and supporting myself. I didn’t really have time for school.”
Her job as a legal secretary helped her realize the importance of education. She received a legal secretary certificate from Empire College 21 years ago, but her work with lawyers who attended Ivy League universities made her want more.
Her driving force? Her kids. “History repeats itself in families, and the odds of my children going to college is based off whether or not I went to college. I wanted to be a role model.”
Her children, Hannah, 10, and Jared, 9, echo that statement. They are proud of her for going back to school and setting a good example.
“It makes her be smarter and a good person,” Jared said, when asked about his mother’s return to college.
Her children always come first, which is why Roy does not start her homework until nine in the evening, sometimes later. She says it’s hard to find a balance because she wants to excel in college, but also wants to spend quality time with her kids.
“The only hard part was missing her at night,” Hannah said. “But a good education is important.”
Roy registered for classes at SRJC when she graduated high school, but with no one to guide her through the stressful process, she became too scared and left. This time, she did things differently.
She prepared by finding her classes before the semester started so she would not get lost. She learned all the buildings, even the ones she did not have classes in, and she brought along her kids, so they could be introduced to college at an early age.
Roy knows she is accomplishing a lot, but she does not expect praise. While she sometimes wishes teachers would ask if there are any parents in the room, she does not expect them to make it any easier. “You just have to find a balance,” she said.
Attending in-person classes has made her realize that she is not the only person struggling with the homework and the workload. Classmates who are 20 years younger and childless receive similar grades to hers.
Roy said college has enhanced her multitasking abilities and helped her take on more in life. It has also given her a confidence boost. “Never underestimate your strength and your knowledge,” she said.
When asked what advice she would give to anyone considering going back to college, she paused, and said, “Jump in and start,” she said. “Jump in with two feet and start and go from there.”
Roy will soon transfer to Sonoma State University to pursue a bachelor’s in liberal studies. Her husband and children are proud of her. Her friends are proud of her. But most importantly, she is proud of herself.
While her kids are incredibly proud, they are also grateful for her newfound knowledge.
“Now she’s smart enough to help me with my homework,” Jared 9 said with a smile.