Super mom, super student

Photo contributed by Selina Ferrandino

Non-traditional student Selina Ferrandino juggles being a mother
and a college student.

Between mixing mojitos, tackling university work and raising her daughter, Maddyx, Castleton senior Selina Ferrandino successfully juggles the struggle between.

“Actually, my real last name is Eastman, but Maddyx won’t let me change it back because she’s scared we won’t be family anymore,” Ferrandino said laughing.

A non-traditional Castleton University student from Rutland, Ferrandino has balanced being a student and a mother on top of 40-plus hour workweeks. Although she now only tends bar at night at Center Street Alley, until recently she also work days handling billing for the Rutland Eye Physicians ophthalmologist office.

A single mother at 26, Ferrandino, now 33, was married when she had baby Maddyx, but made the decision to not stay with her husband. She says having a daughter “completely” influenced her decision to also go back to school.

“If I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, my daughter would follow suit. I wanted to create a better life, that I enjoyed, so that she would also do that with herself — so that she could see that,” Ferrandino explains.  

Communication professor David Blow said he loves having non-traditional students like Ferradino in class has “never had a bad non-traditional student.” He also added that Ferrandino’s story reminds him of a former student of his, Elishia Fletcher. Fletcher, a single mom, had expressed how her daughter did not see the value in college because Fletcher herself had not gone. Realizing this, Fletcher enrolled and Blow said he enjoyed watching her successful career as a student. In turn, Fletcher’s actions motivated her daughter to attend college as well.

But Ferrandino says some aren’t so supportive. As a single mom, she has had to deal with stereotypes and false-assumptions.

People who learn Ferrandino is a single mom will ask her things like, “The father isn’t in the child’s life?”

Courtesy photo

Selina Ferrandino's daughter, Maddyx, poses foe a photo for her mom.

To which she calmly responds, “Yes, he is and our daughter was legitimate.”  

Another common one: “You’re bartending at night, but you have a daughter? Where’s your daughter?!”

Sometimes, Ferrandino gets witty.

“Oh, I just gave her a Valium and told her mommy would be home later.”

The rude and ignorant individual, now mortified, will stare at her for a second.

“She is at her dads and is being taken care of. Thank you.”

She has to hold her tongue.

“It’s like they’re expecting me to say something less than acceptable so that they can shame me or something,” she said.

While Ferrandino is a role model for single mothers, she also made very clear another part of her past, which she holds very important to her. Having had parents who abused drugs and alcohol, Ferrandino was a foster-care child. “I could have gone down a really bad path.”

Fortunately, Ferrandino’s aunt and uncle took her in and showed her a life that was safe and providing. But she didn’t like how this new life was being heavily influenced by money.

Ferrandino says there are a lot of people who often blame their childhood for their mistakes in the future. She hopes that she can be a role model in how she chose to carve her own path and future, despite the cards she was dealt.

“All of my decisions – I own them,” Ferrandino says assertively.

Despite her achievements, the struggle of the juggle does overwhelm Ferrandino often. She has some not-so-positive words for herself when asked how she manages to do it all.  

“I’m a Jill of all trades, master at none. I am not exceptional at any of these things … I have a hard time juggling it, but I can see an end result. I don’t do all these things well, but I’m OK with that and my daughter is happy.”

Ferrandino mentions more than once that if her daughter is happy, she is happy. She notes how she is not very organized. She also explains how she has ADHD, and her struggle to be breadwinner, supermom and a university student can turn into a tornado of responsibility.

But Ferrandino is the eye of the hurricane.

After she’s finished ragging on herself, she admits she still successfully gets the jobs done.

“I DO! I get it done. And then sometimes, I cry about it,” she said with a laughs

“And then I laugh at myself for crying, cuz, I don’t know, I don’t know how I do it…”

She also adds that not taking her ADHD medication actually allows her access to bursts of energy. But with the energy comes a strong surge of anxiety. So Ferrandino doesn’t tend to plan things, rather just tackle life on the go.

“I do like to plan some things but,” she said, her thoughts trailing off.

Ferrandino graduates this December and would love to continue school, but she also would really love to open a yoga studio. She explains how Ashtanga yoga is not just about poses and postures, but breath and other aspects.

Ferrandino says “nurturing love” is very fulfilling. She feels a strong “unconditional love” with her daughter, with an enigmatic “extra touch.” Being able to teach her daughter about life and “not just about things that are right in front of her” brings Ferrandino joy. She paints with her daughter often in their home. The two make up songs in the car and sing them impromptu.  

Maddyx is 7, in second grade at Northwest Elementary School in Rutland. Her favorite subjects are math, gym and music. She wants to be a music teacher. Her mom says she used to aspire to one day become a “rock-star astronaut.”  She’s afraid of spiders, but not plastic spiders, “because they’re not real.”

Ferrandino says her daughter is “extremely meticulous;” she writes neatly and slowly. She also takes her time when she speaks to choose her words correctly.

One time, little Maddyx wanted to “get the bathroom ready” for her mom and after being inside the bathroom for a short while, emerged with a length of toilet paper in her hands.

Measuring out the arm-span length toilet paper she asked her mom, “Is this as long as your bum?”

Maddyx loves The Beatles and the movie “Frozen.”

The other day in her car seat, she had something rewarding for her mom to hear. They were talking about school.

“And I’m going to go to college because you went to college, right mom?!”

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