A mom and her master’s

By Ashley Thomas
Correspondent

Philippa Jenkins finds a way to remain upbeat and conquer the day despite her grueling schedule. When she is not counseling parents at work, she is at the College taking classes to earn her master’s degree or at her on-campus internship. As her day comes to an end, Jenkins arrives home at 9:30 p.m. to see her two children and husband preparing for bed — before she even takes off her shoes.

Jenkins, like many women of the 21st century, is working hard toward a career goal and is not taking the once-traditional homemaker route.

“It’s setting a good example for the kids,” Jenkins said. “Not only did I set my goal, but I pursued it and I achieved it.”

Graduating from the College in 1999 with a degree in psychology, Jenkins had eagerly set her sights on assisting those around her. While in pursuit of her bachelor’s degree, Jenkins worked with autistic adults by helping them with their day-to-day activities.

The Jenkins family enjoys time together on weekends. (Photo courtesy of Philippa Jenkins)
The Jenkins family enjoys time together on weekends. (Photo courtesy of Philippa Jenkins)

“I fell into social services after (graduation), and I liked what I was doing, helping people,” Jenkins said. “Now with my master’s degree, I hope to help at a more intensive level proactively, as opposed to reactively.”

Similarly, she has been able to touch numerous lives through her past employment as a case manager within the Mercer County area. In this field, she was able to be a light in a dark path for many.

“I used to work as a case manager at a shelter for homeless families,” Jenkins said. “Working there was one of the reasons why I chose to go back and get my master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. I saw the skill sets that I had weren’t what the families needed it to be. They often came to me for counseling, and as a case manager, that wasn’t what I was trained to do. As a case manager, you don’t get to the root of the problem. You just Band-Aid it, and I wanted to help them on a greater level.”

By going back and getting her master’s degree, Jenkins will be able to do just that, and she has seen the fruits of her labor already. She takes what she learns in her class and applies it not only to her job, but to her internship as well.

At the College clinic, Jenkins counsels couples and families and maintains a good rapport with her fellow interns. As a master’s level marriage and family service intern, Jenkins finds a way to keep a positive attitude even in an area that can often bring stress.

“I enjoy what I’m doing at the clinic,” Jenkins said. “I love helping the families, and it’s rewarding in a different way. The people are supportive, as in my co-workers, fellow students and interns alike. Plus there’s a light at the end of the tunnel — I only have six months to go.”

With all the help that she is doing for other people, sometimes Jenkins needs her own support system. This is where t her family comes in.

“I have to get a lot of help to do what I do, my husband helps a lot,” she said. “Monday through Thursday I’m in school (and) working. It’s a lot. There’s little time to do anything else, as in school work and housework, by the time I get to that I’m exhausted.”

A typical day for Jenkins starts at 7 a.m. — which she considers to be waking up late — when she wakes up and gets ready to go to work.

“I definitely get to sleep in later because Prince (her husband) gets to take Sarea (her daughter) to school, which is 15 to 20 minutes away,” she said.

While her husband is preparing their daughter for school, their son is getting ready himself to catch the school bus.

“I do get to see them off for school, which is nice, but I do not have much time to spend for breakfast and such considering I have to be in the office at 8:30 sharp,” she said.

After a long day of work and being on campus, Jenkins is finally able to go home and “rest,” but she still has homework to do and preparations to make for the following day, all while spending time with her husband. Somehow, she is able to fit it all in and still wake up the next day energized and ready to go.

Although the family has now become accustomed to their routines, the road to their sound schedules was not as smooth. Once Jenkins got her latest job, it meant more hours and more time away from her family. Her husband, Prince, has since been able to adjust accordingly and receives plenty of help from his sister when needed.

“It was a hard adjustment at first because I was the one that was always working and she was here a lot with the kids, but now that I have been able to get a more solid schedule, I do what I can, and it’s been fun with the kids,” Prince said.

The children have been able to enjoy a lot of quality time with their father during the weekdays and are able to be with their mother on the weekends.

“The weekends are really my time to catch up,” Jenkins said. “That’s when I am usually sleeping in or I’ll take the kids out for a movie or something fun.”

Not being there all the time for her children has had its impact on Jenkins, as well.

“(There’s) a lot of guilt associated with the kids … By the time I’m home, they’re already done with everything, and I don’t get to go to a lot of their extracurriculars either,” she said.

Even so, she does what she can and spends as much time with them as possible while maintaining her busy work load.

“It’s a juggling act,” Jenkins said. “You’re always making a choice. You’re either doing something you want to do, don’t have the energy to do or resting. Especially on the weekends with family, you’re being pulled in a lot of directions.”

Her children, nonetheless, seem impressed by their mother’s drive.

“You go to school, you go to work and you’re our mom, that’s gotta be tough!” said Sarea, age 7.

All Jenkins can do is laugh at the antics in which her children partake while taking a quick second to rest on the couch. She smiles at them with a certain ease that ensures her that her work ethic choices are not done in vain.

Jenkins also does something that most college students do not: She includes her family in her academic schedule. 

“When I get the opportunity, I try to include them on campus,” she said. “I’ve brought my son to class with me before, and I’ve walked them through my internship. I try to include them in my college experience so they know what all these sacrifices are for.”

Her career has taken off in a route that she has truly fallen in love with, and she has high hopes for her own future, as well as the individuals and families she works with.

“I’m hoping to graduate and ideally get a job as a marriage and counselor therapist in Mercer County,” she said. “Also, I hope to get a license in my field which would probably take three to four years.”

As for her clients, Jenkins hopes to empower families and couples by helping them find the things that are attributing to their problems and discover long-lasting solutions.

“When they leave me, they don’t necessarily have to come back to therapy because they have the tools to address the issues on their own,” Jenkins said.

All of this encompasses Jenkins’s grand ambition. Whether it’s at work, her internship or home, her efforts always go to helping others, assisting them so they can some day help themselves and fulfilling her calling as supermom.