By Eric Norwood Jr.
PNT staff writer
December brings snow, cold and holiday cheer. For around 5,000 people in Portales, there’s also the stress of finals at Eastern New Mexico University.
For nearly every student, the last week is stressful, with big projects and exams throughout the final five days before the holiday break. Some students, however, have more than that on their plates.
Here are a pair of students dealing with finals, plus a little bit more:
Samantha Pastrano, 21, is a single mother living in Portales with her 5-year old son, Elijah.
Pastrano works as a respite provider for ENMRSH, as well as for Zenith Youth Leadership Academy, where she mentors adolescents. In addition to this, Pastrano is a junior at ENMU majoring in social work, with a full load of classes. Pastrano, who dropped out of school for a while, admits it has been tough being a single mother and getting back in college.
“It’s been a bumpy road, but I’m doing good now,” said Pastrano.
Pastrano has four finals, including one more today. Pastrano usually has time to study when her son is attending kindergarten at L.L. Brown Early Childhood Center, or when he is asleep.
“It’s tough finding time, but I make it work,” said Pastrano, scheduled to graduate in May 2015.
Another student who has been overcoming the odds this semester is Alex Massey, 27, a Marine living in Clovis.
Massey started his first semester of college in August, but missed the whole first week of school to be with his 2-year old daughter Emma Rose Ramirez, who had open-heart surgery the week school started. Ramirez was born with an arterial septal defect, or a hole in her heart.
“It was crazy,” said Massey, an undeclared major. “We were running back and forth to Albuquerque. Our money was dwindling, and I didn’t even have money for books.”
Massey is taking four classes, and drives from Clovis to Portales for class a few times a week. When the government shut down earlier in the semester, Massey began struggling more financially due to his GI bill not being sent out.
“It was tough man, I was scraping change up to make the drive to class,” said Massey.
He lives with his fiancee, Adrianna Ramirez, 22, and their other child, Shane Christopher Massey, who is 6 1/2 months. Massey is left with babysitting duties as well while Ramirez works, and is also looking for a job that pays enough to support his family and allow his fiancee to quit working.
“The kids need constant supervision, which makes it tough to study. Time management has been a big issue,” said Massey, who earlier this semester took his children with him to re-do a midterm.
“Luckily my son was asleep, and my little girl was being good,” Massey said.
Massey is taking four finals, which is nerve-wracking for someone in their first semester of college.
“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” said Massey.
As for his daughter, Emma Rose?
“She is fine, no complications since the surgery,” Massey said with a sigh of relief. “She is doing great.”