Name: Brittany Kluge
City/Location: West Valley City, Utah
Major/Field of Study: Marriage and Family Studies
Marital status/children: Married, 4 children
I graduated from LDS Business College in 2004, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go with my education from there. After praying about it, I made the decision to not transfer to a university at that time. I had the wonderful opportunity to work in Special Education for a few years, and when I had my first baby, I became a stay-at-home-mom.
After my third baby, I started getting the impression that when I went back to school, I should pursue a family-related degree – something I’d never considered before. I supported my husband through eight years of school, and when he graduated, I joked that maybe it was time for me to go back to school, but in actuality, I wasn’t even considering it. I always thought that I’d return to school when my children were older. Then within a few weeks of my husband’s graduation, I accidentally stumbled across the list of degrees offered online through BYU-Idaho, and when I saw Marriage and Family Studies, I was so overcome with the Spirit that I began crying. I ignored the impression for a few weeks, but one day I was driving my daughter home from Primary Children’s Hospital on the University of Utah campus, and being on that campus brought back the impression that it was time for me to go back to school. The week after I registered, I found out I was pregnant with my fourth baby. The Lord had big things in store for me all at once!
All of my friends and family have been very positive about my schooling. The strongest supporter of my education is my husband, Cody. He has been great to take on more responsibility at home while I do school work, and he listens to me talk incessantly about what I’m learning. Part of the BYU-I learning model includes teaching others, and in many of my classes, I have to report who, what, and how I taught. Cody is always my pupil of choice.
I think a lot of women pursue this field of study because it is useful both in a career and in home and family life. I hope to see a great improvement in my family as a result of my education, but I’ve had moments where I’ve been a good student and a horrible mother.
One time I was trying to write a paper, and my two-year-old was climbing all over my lap, begging for attention. She ended up knocking a cup of water on my laptop, and I was pretty furious. In that moment, I realized that all I needed to do was stop working on my paper and spend five minutes with my daughter. It wouldn’t have been a big deal. To those who are interested in a similar course of study, especially those who are parents, it is very important to put your family and marriage first. I want my children to see me study and work hard to earn this degree, but I don’t want them to feel like they are less important that my schooling. A degree in Marriage and Family Studies loses its value if I put my own family on the back burner to get it.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to take it slow. In junior college, I took 18 credit hours at a time. Now that I’m working on my Bachelor’s degree, I feel like I need to hurry and get it done because I’m not exactly getting younger. Sometimes I have to step back and look at the big picture. I have seven years before I’m kicked out of my program, and I have four little kids. If I take school slowly, I can still savor these special years with my children, and there’s nothing wrong with doing a little bit of school at a time. I’m 87.5% done with my degree and moving closer every day, even if the pace is slow.
It’s important to remember that all of our lives’ paths are different and there are many “right” paths. It’s hard to not compare myself to others, especially when many women my age already have advanced degrees. Sometimes I feel like I’m very behind in life, but if I’d transferred to a university straight out of junior college, I would have ended up in a field of study I wasn’t passionate about.
I love getting positive feedback from my instructors. I noticed very quickly when I left my job to be a stay-at-home-mom that no one was patting me on the back anymore. When I worked, I was appreciated by my employer, and I felt valued. As a mom, no one really thanks me for what I do or tells me I’m doing a good job. As soon as I went back to school, I realized how much I thrive on assessment. I like being graded and seeing something that reflects my hard work. It’s nice to know whether I’m doing quality work or not.
I haven’t narrowed down what I’d like to do with my degree. First and foremost, I want to be a good wife and mother. I plan on continuing as a stay-at-home-mom for as long as I can. I haven’t ruled out grad school, but that’s so far in the future that I’m not making plans for it just yet. I’m interested in family resilience, and I have some ideas for non-profit programs that can help families. I might look into being a child life specialist. I’d love to teach marriage or parenting classes (as soon as I’ve mastered those skills, myself, of course) or help families affected by addiction. A lot of people in my program would like to become marriage counselors or social workers.