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Balancing and Stretching

January 2018

Rachael Langston is studying to be a nurse as a mother of three who returned to school to finish her degree. She is grateful for the financial aid she has received through the BYU Alumni Association.

Rachael Langston had no immediate plans to finish her schooling. But the mother of three, who already has plenty of responsibilities, felt a strong spiritual prompting that despite her already full life, she needed to get her degree. She knew returning to school after 12 years would be difficult, but with faith and pluck, she applied to BYU and was accepted. She is now studying to be a nurse.

“It has been a chaotic adventure,” she says. “It took a lot of readjusting because I have kids, a husband, a house, and bills.” Thankfully, Langston received an Alumni Replenishment Grant to help alleviate the financial strain of being a student again.

But even with the financial help, maintaining life balance is a challenge. “I still have a good GPA, but I don’t have a 4.0 because sometimes I have to say, ‘Okay, I’m going to miss that assignment because my kids need me right now.’ I can go for an A– because it’s better to have balance at home,” she says. Langston says the truest answer to her balancing act is God. “He makes me able to do the impossible.”

Learning with Perspective

One benefit of being a returning student: Langston’s life experiences give her a perspective that is different from other students. For example, she says, “I’ve had three babies, so when we did our OB rotation in the hospital, I had been there as a patient.”

Of being an older student, she says, “I’m not afraid to be wrong, and I raise my hand a lot. I’m wrong sometimes, but it doesn’t affect my ego, because I’m learning.” She says that making connections with younger students has been helpful in her finding her place at BYU: “As I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I have made friendships that I treasure.”

Langston is the president of the Nontraditional Student Association at BYU, which is a volunteer position. (Nontraditional students are over 30 years old and come from a variety of financial and family backgrounds.) Langston knows that all students, traditional or nontraditional, have stresses. “It’s like yoga: we’re all stretched to our own level of uncomfortable—it’s hard for all of us. But as we learn and we relax and we keep at it, we’re able to stretch further than we thought we could.”

When she wonders if coming back to school is worth the stresses and tears, Langston recalls her initial prompting and the spiritual confirmations she has received along the way. “I have moments of revelation when I realize I’m exactly where I am supposed to be.”

MORE: For information on supporting students like Langston through Alumni Replenishment Grants, visit

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