Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

I am proud of the journey I took to get to UT

Nora Romman

A nontraditional student can be defined broadly. These types of students tend to be older, married, have a family or work a full-time job. Their high school graduation may have been a decade or more ago, and their time at UT may not be for their first degree, or even the first university they have attended. 

The above are all true for me. I am a married mom of three, who has worked full-time for the last seven years; UT will be the third university I graduate from. As a nontraditional student, I add value to the university setting, beyond academics. 

Next time you meet someone with an atypical background, ask them to share the path that led them to sit next to you in class because it will offer you a new perspective. 

This summer, my weeks are filled with kids’ summer camps and sports lessons while I transition from full-time employer to full-time student. I always see the astonishment on people’s faces as they ask about how my husband and I get everything done. But it’s simple. My time management looks different than when I was an undergrad at UC San Diego, and the biggest stress was making it to my early morning work-study job on time. 

I now scoff at myself for what I once considered was a lot on my plate. My husband and I focus on giving our kids opportunities, so we prioritize the events that are the most important. It is true, you do learn to operate on less sleep eventually, but maintaining our busy family schedule takes time management.

An important part of sustaining a hectic life is taking time for myself, regardless of family and work. My alone time looks like a solo trip to the nail salon, writing in my journal in a quiet space or just one episode of my favorite show every few days. 

If you ask me about the past seven years of full-time work, I have plenty of stories to share about leadership I have encountered, both good and bad. With my experience, I can highlight what a good mentor looks like, and why I value the opportunity to mentor those that follow in my footsteps, whether it’s about work, education or motherhood.

I did not always have someone to look up to or ask difficult questions to. Was every decision the best decision? Maybe not, but I don’t live a life of regret, I live a life of self-awareness and confidence.  

In an academic setting, with peers who may be younger or older, with everything I have learned and everything I aspire to share with my kids, as a nontraditional student I can be a mentor. Not only can nontraditional students spark a lot of intellectually stimulating conversations, but all students can learn from my experiences, which can impact how they perceive the world. 

I am proud to be a nontraditional student and this is only a fragment of my journey, but keep your ears open and get to know us. You can find us in any classroom, from undergraduate to professional degree programs, with different stories to share. I can’t promise every story will change your life, but they can put your life into perspective. 

Washington is a Russian, East European and Eurasian studies graduate student from Los Angeles, California.


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