Students share what it means to be both a student and a mother

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Students share what it means to be both a student and a mother

Photo by Chantelle D'mello

Photo by Chantelle D'mello


Photo by Chantelle D'mello



Photo by Chantelle D'mello

By Chantelle D’mello


Photo by Chantelle D'mello

Photo by Chantelle D’mello


Eiman Al Mahmoud is no stranger to hard work. Al Mahmoud shares the same experiences as other freshmen in Northwestern University in Qatar’s freshmen in the class of 2017 who have to deal with a new academic challenge. Driven, ambitious, and passionate, she could be easily mistaken for just another face in the freshman class.


But unknown to many, Al Mahmoud is more than just a student. She is also a mother to Ahmad, who is 3-years-old, Lolwa, who is 2-years-old, and a wife to Mohammed for 4 years.


As the sun rises at 6 am, so does Eiman. After waking up her 3-year old son, Ahmad, she makes sure that he’s fed and dressed before sending him off to school. With Ahmad out of the house, Eiman checks on her younger daughter, Lolwa, then gets ready for her 8:30 am Political Science class at NU-Q.


Al Mahmoud’s packed schedule, with a full course load and assignments, is similar to that of other mothers in the small community of married students in Education City. The hard work and effort that they put into balancing their education and their family commitments often goes unnoticed because they’re only a small minority in EC.


In fact, the admissions departments of the different campuses at Education City – Northwestern University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Texas A&M, had no figures on the number of married students enrolled.


Aisha Al Misned, a junior at NU-Q, faces similar challenges to Al Mahmoud. The mother to 3-year-old Abdulaziz, she finds the amount of free time she has to spend with her son between classes insufficient.


“He’s around me most of the day, but that is not ‘spending’ the day with him. It’s not adequate. I wish I could spend more quality time with him,” Al Misned said.


Al Mahmoud shares the sentiment.


“I fear that I’m not giving my kids enough time. I’m taking time away from them to study and go to school. My time is their right,” Al Mahmoud said. “I ask myself sometimes if I’m a good mother for doing this, but it’s better for them that I study now.”


Despite the challenges they face, both women are resolute in their pursuit of higher education.


For Al Mahmoud, it was the birth of her daughter Lolwa that motivated her to go back to school after dropping out of Qatar University in 2008. She decided to quit her job at Msheireb Properties and join the Academic Bridge Program in EC.


“I wanted my kids to see that (drive for education) in me and see me as a role model,” Al Mahmoud said.


For Al Misned, completing her education was “never a question.” But now it’s become much more important.


“(You) want to be able to cultivate a positive environment, and this is only possible when you learn, develop, and create possibilities through education,” she said.


Al Mahmoud’s hectic day winds down at around 8 pm, when she puts her children to sleep.


“Ahmad goes to bed at 8. Lolwa, well, sometimes she goes to bed, sometimes she doesn’t,” she added, laughing.


It is during the quiet moments late at night that Al Mahmoud takes off the cloak of a mother and becomes a student. She finishes her homework, sometimes staying up till 2 or 3 am in order to get everything done for the next day.


Her husband, Mohammed, does his best to help her out.


“He would do anything for the children. When I can’t take care of them, he stays with them. He has my back whenever I need him,” she explained.


Along with the responsibilities of being a wife, mother and student, Al Mahmoud has post-graduate plans of own. After graduating from NU-Q she wants to finish graduate school, go into public relations and, finally, open her own business.


Her advice to other students is simple.


“Give your family priority, but never take them as an excuse for not being successful,” she said.


Both students concluded that the challenges they face while being mothers and students are worth it.


“Being responsible for another human being…for his physical and mental health (makes me) realize how difficult but beautiful motherhood is,” Al Misned said. “I appreciate mothers more. I know what sacrifice is.”


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