Crayola-themed commercials adorning choreographed dances usually signal the back-to-school season for children but what happens when the roles are reversed and the parent finds themselves perplexed over which glossy textbook to buy?
Gina Avile, 22, of Casselberry is a senior journalism student at the University of Central Florida and with a two-year old daughter, River Avile, back to school applies just as much to her future as it does her daughter’s.
“The [back to school] process for me is making sure I have people to babysit her while I’m at school and making sure I have a good balance of classes and work so I have enough time to do both,” says Avile.
For most young college students, the ending of summer means giving up lazy days sunbathing on white sandy beaches or partying until dusk. For Avile, preparing for the fall semester brings her closer to her aspiration of providing for her daughter.
During the summer, she had two internships at Watermark Media Inc. and Winter Park’s community newspaper, The Observer. This semester she is continuing to hone her experience in journalism as an intern at Bonier Corp. in Winter Park, along with two online classes.
Internship and classes equates to 20 hours of school, and work is an extra 12 hours on Fridays and Sundays, says Avile.
Avile’s husband, Freddie Avile, often helps his wife with finding time between work, school and family. For the 27-year-old tattoo artist, supporting one another while working towards their goals will resonate with their daughter as she gets older.
“I think it’s super important for River to grow up watching us achieve our goals so when she’s a little older, she knows anything can be possible no matter how tough a situation might seem,” says Freddie.
Like with any parent, balancing children with other priorities can pose as a challenge.
Avile says her and her husband tried to look into daycare options at UCF but for the young parents the costs were not feasible.
“We decided not to do it. I plan around her basically. Whatever days I can get a babysitter that’s where I plan my classes around.”
This semester, she had to drop a Monday class for her film minor because she couldn’t find a babysitter for River but it was a decision the young mother hasn’t regretted.
“I just feel like being a mom is more important to me. Especially now because she’s so little. As much as I can I have full days where I don’t do anything but just be with her. That’s the best,” she says.
Even with time off from school and work, Aviles makes sure her time is prioritized so she can stay on track to graduating in hopes of becoming a food journalist.
“Gina wakes up either really early in the morning or stays up late to put her best effort into her school work, making sure that she still makes time for River and myself included throughout the day,” Freddie says.
Next year, Avile will be taking the anticipated walk across the knight’s threshold at the CFE arena and with a degree in hand she will be prepared to send her three-year-old off to Pre-K.
With the experience of college fresh on her intellect, she says she will not pressure her daughter to follow in her footsteps but to lead her own path when she’s an adult.
“I’m really excited to graduate and for her to see that you have to accomplish what you start.”
For now, the rosy-cheeked and blonde-haired toddler will be the one inspiring her mom to pick out the right school supplies and sending her off to class with gummy-bear flavored kisses.
By Shanae Hardy