And baby makes three

Theresa Bruskin

For some students there are lessons that can’t be taught in class

Kharma smiles on Samantha Keller everyday.

“She’s my life,” Keller, a 21-year-old physics major, said. “I’d quit school, I’d quit work, I’d do whatever.”

Kharma was born via Caesarian section on Sept. 20, 2006, a few weeks into what would have been Keller’s second year at Kent State. Before then, even with Keller’s pink hair and piercings, she blended in on campus. Today, pushing 2-foot-tall Kharma in a green stroller, she stands out.

Keller said coming to campus makes her a little nervous now, but that it won’t stop her from doing what she needs for her daughter.

“I’m not worried about being judged so much,” she said. “I know that she’s happy and healthy and that’s my job as a mom.”

Keller has put her degree on hold to focus on being a mom. She works the night shift at the Circle K on state Route 43, rising at 2 a.m. to shower, dress and feed Kharma, then drive from her home on Walter Street to a baby sitter in Cuyahoga Falls — all before being at work in Kent at 4:45 a.m.

“I didn’t plan on taking so long off school, but it’s just us two,” she said. “So when you have to juggle work and baby sitters, it’s hard to fit school in, too.”

Keller plans to return to school in the spring, and said morning classes will be difficult because she plans on working the night shift.

Neale Linge, a senior history student with three daughters of his own, said he couldn’t imagine going through college as a single parent.

“It amazes me, because it’s not easy,” he said.

Linge, 28, dropped out of college to join the Army in 2000. His oldest daughter Peyton, now 5, was 7 months old when he was deployed to Iraq. His wife was finishing up her psychology degree at the time.

“She had it a lot harder than I did her senior year of college,” he said. “I was deployed, so she was essentially a single mom.”

While he was away, Linge watched Peyton grow up through the pictures his wife sent him, but said it was difficult because he couldn’t get to know her.

“The first two weeks I was back, she didn’t call me Daddy. She called me Neale, because that’s what my wife called me,” he said. “It was hard because it’s one of those things you hold on to — that you’re a daddy. And then you get home and she doesn’t acknowledge you as Daddy.”

After Peyton came Presley, now 18 months old, and Mia, born four months ago.

Linge is back in school now, set to graduate in May, and taking a light course load so he can spend time with his family. He said he supported his wife through school, so now she supports him while he finishes his degree.

“I could have finished earlier perhaps, but I want to have time for my family,” Linge said. “It’s a juggling act really, finding time to write papers and not be detached from your family.”

One time, in particular, stands out.

“My middle child, Presley, had colic when she was a baby, and she would scream and cry inconsolably every night for a few weeks,” he said. “It was impossible to study for an exam or to write a paper. I eventually had to put in earphones just to get work done.”

Peyton started kindergarten this year and recently announced she wants to go to college to be a doctor.

“We talk about school together. I ask her, ‘Did you have a good day at school?’ and she says, ‘Yeah, did you Daddy?'” he said.

Linge said he wants to instill the importance of an education in his daughters.

“I didn’t want to be the excuse for my kids not to do it, not to go to college,” he said. “I feel like if I do well, then they’ll know they can do it too.”

Contact student life reporter Theresa Bruskin at [email protected].