‘I was super nervous and I didn’t have to be’—A local mom talks about going back to school

I met Amber when she helped a coworker mop up the large iced tea she’d just dropped waiting for her food at the Blue Bamboo last week. After, Amber mentioned how amazed she was at how diverse the student body was at Ivy Tech, nodding toward two men speaking Spanish in line and two women in hijab.

“So you’re new to Ivy Tech?” I asked.

“It’s my third day,” she said.

Amber and I met up a few days ago to see how things have been going so far. Every story at Ivy Tech is different–but so many are relateable. Take a few moments and meet Amber O’Neal, of Fort Wayne. A 2010 Carroll High School graduate, she started at Ivy Tech Northeast this semester. She is mom to 4-year-old Weston and 8-month-old twins Londynn and Brooklynn.

Meet Amber, who hopes to graduate from Ivy Tech Northeast with her associate degree in general studies. Her first day of classes was Aug. 25.

Meet Amber, 22, who hopes to graduate from Ivy Tech Northeast with her associate degree in general studies. Her first day of classes was Aug. 25.

What brought you to Ivy Tech? A lot of my friends and family came here, and they told me that it was a good school to get what you needed done, and there was a lot of people to help you.

What are you studying? Right now, I’m just doing my general classes. I really want to go for psychology. I want to be a therapist for foster kids. I know a lot of kids who have been through the system, and I feel like it would be interesting to talk to them and help them through the issues that they’re having.

You’ve been here now a week and a half. How does it compare to your expectations? Everybody is super friendly, and there are lots of ways to get help to find your way around, everywhere. For instance, I just randomly talked to you (last week), and you told me there was a gym in this building, and I didn’t have to (leave campus). Everybody is just a lot friendlier than I expected. I was super nervous, and I realized I didn’t have to be.

What were you like in high school? I was very popular. I had friends in every group. I definitely goofed off a lot. I was the class clown, but I graduated six months early and got all my work done. I was pregnant with my son, so I got out of there early and started working.

A year ago, what were you doing? A year ago, I was pregnant with my twins. So I was on bed rest and ready to start school. That was the plan: Right after I had them, I was ready to come here.

AmbersKids

Amber’s children: Weston, 4, with his sisters Brooklynn (left) and Londynn.

Why was now the right time to go back to school? I was working a lot, and I finally was able to get a break from work to start schooling, and I knew to better my future I was going to have to do it.

Was that a scary decision? Yes. It was a very hard decision, but I figured it’d be better in the long run.

What does your 4-year-old think about Mom going back to school? He thinks it’s pretty cool, because I drop him off at school, and he tells me to have a good day. He thinks it’s cool we’re going to school together.

What’s your favorite way to relax? Listening to music. I put my headphones in and just jam out. I like everything from bluegrass to heavy metal.

What’s your favorite thing about fall in Fort Wayne? I would have to say all the festivals that are going on—Johnny Appleseed, pumpkin festivals, haunted houses.

Know a student or graduate who should be featured in Green Light? Tell me about him or her at jgarver2@ivytech.edu.

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