By Megan Gieske, Staff Writer
During midterms, end of fall festivities and the approach of finals, most college students have little else that they can focus on — but junior Amy Smith Gillman has another focus: her family. As a full-time mother and full-time college student, she has more on her plate than the average Asburian.
Gillman had her first child, Lydia, fifteen months ago, during her sophomore year and is currently expecting her second child. Unlike most college students, her priority can’t always be studying or homework — as a mother, she constantly must be thinking about her children.
“It’s not about you,” she said. “It’s always about them. If anything were to come up, she’s absolutely the first priority.”
Gillman is a full-time student majoring in equine studies. She takes a normal amount of credits each semester; this semester, she’s taking 16. Though she did have to take off some time from school when she had Lydia her sophomore year, Gillman is poised to graduate next December.
“[Lydia] will be two then and the baby will be about a year old,” she said.
Gillman married her husband, Matthew Gillman, in January 2014. He works full time at Men’s Warehouse. The couple first met at six years old while playing soccer at home in Tennessee. Both from the Knoxville, Tennessee area, they’ve been family friends since childhood.
Though an unconventional decision, Gillman drew on past experiences when considering whether to have a child while still in school.
“At sixteen, I helped kids who were adopted, helped foster some by myself, took on three kids and went to school,” Gillman said.
She found out about the opportunity to be a part of the foster-care system at her church. Gillman displayed formidable strength to be so selfless then, as a child herself, taking on so many responsibilities. But she just saw it as the right thing to do.
“[The children] were there and [they] needed somebody,” she said. “Since I was so young, it didn’t feel like I was taking on children. It felt like I was taking on little brothers or sisters.”
With a young daughter to take care of and another child on the way, Gillman still has the same selfless principles, but she is also determined not to let her own passions slip by.
“At some point, I’ll be going back to Tennessee and hopefully own my own stable down there,” Gillman said.
Gillman is passing on that passion to her children. “Lydia already rides horses and laughs [while riding],” she said. She and her husband first introduced their daughter to riding by holding her on their laps while they rode around the track, or by propping her up and leading the horse slowly.
Lydia is a blue-eyed wonder. All smiles, she excitedly grabbed the latest copy of the Collegian with her chubby hands, pulling out pages to hand to Gillman. As Lydia leaned in to give her mom a kiss and then toddled away, waving goodbye, Gillman admitted that she occasionally becomes overwhelmed.
“But it’s worth it,” she said. “Being organized helps.”
She added that for her young family, having a strong support group is important. Gillman manages classes and motherhood with the help of “great people who watch Lydia all the time.”
A lot of that support comes from the community at Asbury.
With another due date less than a month, Gillman will be both studying for finals and preparing to have her second child, a little boy named Bruce Wayne (her husband’s choice).