A Catholic mother who is raising her daughter alone is making headlines for being named co-valedictorian of the St. Francis College class of 2020. Alexa Rutkowska graduated at the top of her class at the Brooklyn Heights, New York, college, all while balancing multiple jobs and caring for her daughter.
In an interview with Emily Drooby, of NetNY, Rutkowska described a schedule that would make many reevaluate just how much they wanted their degree. Her studies kept her running around for two-thirds of each day, while maintaining positions as a barista, a tutor, a teacher, a research assistant, and a full-time mom. She described her days:
“It was definitely a bit of a struggle. I was waking up at five o’clock in the morning, going to work for 6 a.m., I was a barista,” she explained. “Then I would shoot right over to school, I had class and participated in extracurriculars. It was a lot. I had 16-hour days and at the end of the day, I would have to come home and take care of my daughter. So, it was a lot.”
A Catholic parishioner of St. Francis Xavier in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Rutkowska explained to the St. Francis College press that St. Francis was the only college to which she applied. She credited the support of her family for helping her make the decision to see her education through. When asked if the Franciscan values resonated with her during her time at St. Francis College, she said:
“Yes, St. Francis has the spirit of community. I would not be where I am today without the support of my peers and faculty. All the staff helps students a lot. That spirit of community definitely encourages students to reach their goals.”
Alexa graduates with a master’s degree in psychology and intends to continue her education to the doctoral level. She hopes to one day open her own private practice.