Student-mother finds creative balance

College and motherhood are two responsibilities most full-time students try to avoid having at the same time. With busy class schedules, study groups, part-time jobs, school activities and a social life, raising a child seems almost impossible. Sharkeyvia Garland-Stone, a third-year theater performing arts student from Miami, knows first-hand the struggle of trying to be a good mother and student at the same time.

Garland-Stone, who plays Tango in the play “Since ’76,” has been married for over a year and has a 9-month-old son. Garland-Stone said her situation actually helps her better relate to and understand her character.

“We both have a baby, we’re both honest, are family­-oriented, and give people the benefit of the doubt,” Garland-Stone said.

Her husband’s tour of duty in Iraq and the pressures of school forced her to send her son to live with her grandmother.

“It’s really hard being without my husband and my baby,” said Garland-Stone. “I feel like I am missing a part of my son’s growing up.”

In the midst of her situation, Garland-Stone said she felt like she was losing herself, and she became depressed. Moving toward her goals and the life she wants for her child is what keeps her inspired and encouraged.

“I want to get this done right now, so my child can have a better future and not want for anything,” Garland-Stone said. “God makes everything for a reason. My son is my biggest joy. People looked down on me when I was pregnant; they thought I would fail.”

“Since ’76,” is Garland-Stone’s first show in the Essential Theater, and her husband and son are coming to see her performance.

Marci Stringer, theater professor and director of “Since 76” said Garland-Stone’s determination is what sets her apart from other students.

“Her determination is key to her success,” Stringer said. “When you have a child, you don’t have the room to mess up like some other students might have. If you mess up, that’s more time away from your child.”

Stringer, who was also a college parent, decided to go to graduate school when she found out she was having a child. She recorded films, commercials and theater, all while raising her child.

 Stringer said her focus shifted, and she became a stronger person when she became a mother and wanted to give her son the opportunity to achieve his dreams.

“My life is an example of living your dreams,” she said, explaining that circumstances are no excuse for failure. “You do what you have to do to succeed.”