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Devin (second from left) and Nicole Keirsey (right) balance school and home life to get master's degrees and provide a better life for their kids, Liam (left) and Daniel (third from left).

Going to class, taking care of kids at home and doing other work on the side has always been Devin and Nicole Keirsey’s routine. Even with the need to self-isolate, these Texas Tech students continue to tackle the challenges ahead of them.

Nicole Keirsey, a public administration and public health master’s student from Lubbock, and Devin Keirsey, a social work master’s student from Little Rock, Arkansas, have been together for about ten years and were married in 2017. In addition to maintaining grades, the Keirseys raise two sons: Liam and Daniel.

Having to juggle different workloads is a challenge the Keirseys face being students and parents, especially while working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether it be while self-isolating or even before the pandemic, Devin Keirsey said having to keep track of multiple tasks as a student and as a parent can get crazy. It is good for someone who is juggling multiple tasks to learn to relax and ask for help.

There have been times when Devin Keirsey said he would feel a little guilty for not being able to spend time with his kids, as he would be busy with schoolwork. Although, it is important to keep one’s head up and ask for help from friends and family.

“There’s people that want to see you succeed,” he said. “So, don’t feel ashamed to ask for a little bit of help.”

Even before the stay-at-home order was issued in Lubbock, Nicole Keirsey said having to take care of kids and complete schoolwork can get difficult. Homeschooling them amid the pandemic also has been really challenging.

Although, Nicole Keirsey said she and Devin Keirsey have made multiple connections at Tech, such as faculty members and other friends, who act as support systems for them.

“Something that helped us tremendously, that people overlook, is just working on campus,” she said. “They don’t pay a whole, whole bunch, but the exchange is that you work with people who are very supportive of what you’re doing.”

Along with the commitment needed to care for two kids and to manage a college workload, the Keirseys also had different jobs over the years.

Devin Keirsey’s graduate program required him to complete 900 hours of internships, he said. His most recent internship opportunity consisted of working at the Tech Title IX office.

Having to balance school, an internship and life at home got crazy, but the people he met through his graduate program and Tech have been supportive, Devin Keirsey said.

“One of the first things we’re taught is how to understand people and their current situation and their viewpoint,” he said regarding his studies in social work and how everyone in the program learns to perceive the world.

Despite the obstacles the Keirseys have faced, there may be multiple aspects of life that keep them motivated to stay on track.

Whether it is his time working at the University Medical Center Cancer Center or his time in the social work program, Devin Keirsey said he wanted to help those in need. Along with this reason, graduating this semester with a master’s degree, despite not being able to walk during the normal month, is important, as his kids act as a motivator to achieve this degree.

Even though it may not be fun to have to work and miss out on spending time with the kids, Devin Keirsey said the hard work will be worth it in the end.

“You just got to realize that the main goal is you’re doing that for them,” he said.

Before attending Tech, Nicole Keirsey said she thought college was not for her, but she realized a degree would be necessary for certain positions. In addition to wanting more opportunities after her graduation, which will take place sometime after this spring semester, she said her kids have been a big motivator to pursue higher education.

Nicole Keirsey wanted to attend college, so she could later make a difference, she said. With the skills she has learned from her program, she wants to be a physician recruiter.

“If they were going to see me struggle, I wanted not to be struggling on my own choice,” she said regarding her kids. “If they were going to seem me struggle maybe it would be while I was going to college and trying to do better.”

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