Many college students in West Virginia are returning to campus this week or starting their first semester of higher education.
It can be an exciting and challenging time for students leaving home for the first time and starting the next chapter of their lives.
But many adults are also working to get a degree to make ends meet.
Christy Stephenson and her family have been through some tough times lately. Her husband John was diagnosed with Leukemia just over a year ago. He had to stop working, leaving the couple with financial challenges.
Wednesday marked the second day of college classes for Christy this semester. Her two daughters Anna and Samantha go back to school Thursday. So their day began early. Christy loaded up the girls, and took them to meet their dad who was in Charleston for an appointment with his oncologist, so that she could go to class. She is a biology major at West Virginia State University.
"I was working 40 to 60 hours a week at my job and providing for the family," John Stephenson said. "Now where the main income of the family is not there she decided to go back to school to further her education."
Christy Stephenson said going back to school wasn't part of her life plan and this time around it comes with it's share of challenges. She and John went to college briefly after high school before starting a family.
"I'm always the oldest one in my classes. I feel like and there is so much I didn't learn in high school or didn't take the time to learn," Christy Stephenson said.
She is carrying an 18 hour class load this semester and took classes over the summer. Finding a balance between homework, her part time job and motherhood is rough.
"I have to lay down those home responsibilities and remember I can't focus so much on the kids. That is difficult," she said.
Christy made the Dean's list last year. It is something she said she never thought she'd be able to do. She is hoping to eventually attend West Virginia University after she completes her undergraduate work.