Berkeley Today Stories

Berkeley College students Katarzyna and Nestor Rendon

Spouses Support One Another As They Work Towards College Degree

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Berkeley College students Katarzyna and Nestor Rendon

 

There was nothing in their marriage vows about supporting one another through a college education, but that’s just what Nestor and Katarzyna Rendon are doing. They both work while pursuing Bachelor’s degrees and raising their sons Patrik, 12, and Mark, 4.

The couple’s academic journey at Berkeley College began in 2014 when they enrolled at the Paramus campus. Thanks to transfer credits from other institutions, they were able to shorten the path to graduation. Katarzyna, who works part-time as an assistant in an oral surgeon’s office and teaches German to pre-school students, is pursuing a B.B.A. in Health Services Management. Nestor, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who works full-time as a building supervisor, is pursing a B.B.A. in Business Administration – Management.

“I thought it would be great if we attended college at the same time because we could support one another,” said Katarzyna, a straight-A student and native of Poland who speaks five languages – German, Polish, Spanish, Russian, and English. “Because English is my fifth language, Nestor has been a great help in translating words and helping me with concepts, especially when I first started taking classes at Berkeley."

Supporting One Another Is the Key to Success

Because the couple doesn’t have family nearby, they have to depend on one another when it comes to juggling childcare and household responsibilities. Whenever possible they study together, and because they are taking many of the same core courses they draw on one another’s strengths when preparing for exams or completing papers.

Thanks to a flexible work schedule, Nestor drives the boys to and from school and to after school activities, which frees his wife up to study. Nestor also does a lot of his studying during downtime at the office or on his lunch breaks.

“Studying doesn’t take too long for me because I have strong concentration skills and I tend to soak up everything the professor says while I am in the classroom,” said Nestor, who has a 3.90 grade point average. “There are absolutely no distractions for me while I am at college. I am one hundred percent focused on what the professor is saying and what I am doing.”

There’s no competition between the couple; instead, Nestor is one of his wife’s biggest cheerleaders.

“What makes me the happiest is seeing her doing better than me,” said Nestor, who plans to enroll in the M.B.A. in Management program at Berkeley College following graduation (he has 10 courses to complete).

Katarzyna hopes to get a position in a hospital that offers tuition reimbursement after she completes her program this summer. Her goal is to pursue a Master’s degree in Health Services Management and eventually to work in a hospital as a coordinator or risk manager.

Staying Focused on Their Goals Helps Couple to Overcome Challenges

The Rendons agree that the road to a college degree hasn’t been easy. There have been times when classes were especially challenging, one of the boys was sick, and lack of sleep made concentration difficult, but the couple never lost sight of their goals.

“When things get tough I picture myself graduating with the diploma in my hand. I am a stubborn person by nature and once I start something I don’t stop until I complete it,” Katarzyna said.

Inspiration also comes from their sons. Patrik is excited that his parents are attending college and is proud of their accomplishments. Both boys have been present when their parents were recognized at Berkeley College Honors Society ceremonies.

“What drives me to keep on going is that I want to be an example for our boys,” said Nestor, who will be the first in his family to graduate from college. “I can tell them that your mom and I earned degrees while working and raising you, and when it’s your turn to go to college we will support you no matter what.”

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