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A new home and new opportunities

For Lindsay Dixon, a 39-year-old student majoring in history, the decision to go to college was inspired by her family. A mother of two and a Michigan native, her move to Maryland presented new opportunities and brought her to UMBC.

Dixon sat down for an interview in the dining area of The Commons the day after returning from a weekend visit home. She wore an oversized, gray UMBC sweatshirt and her nails painted alternating blue and yellow for University of Michigan: her husband’s alma mater.

Michigan’s shrinking economy led to Dixon’s decision to move. After her husband graduated with his bachelor’s, he was unable to find work as a programmer and decided to look outward. Maryland had great job opportunities for good pay. With two children it was difficult to move away from extended family but the choice strengthened Dixon and her family.

“It really demanded that we elevate ourselves to a new level of our relationship and who we wanted to be and try things without any nearby support,” Dixon said. “We’ve been thriving here; flourishing.”

Dixon’s husband encouraged her to explore her own future. She was a single, working mother when she met him and was content working minimum wage jobs.

“I just really hadn’t considered myself as being capable of doing anything more. I was okay with the status quo. My husband was like, ‘You can do anything you want to do, I will help you,’” Dixon said, smiling and adjusting her oval-framed glasses.

After some exploration, Dixon realized that because of her love of books, she should be a librarian. After completing her bachelor’s, she will obtain her master’s in library science.

Being a working mother in school has been understandably difficult for Dixon. She spends her days at UMBC from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and works at Trader Joe’s from 4 p.m. to midnight. The time in between is spent studying and being with her family.

“My daughter is almost 15,” said Dixon. “She picks up the slack for me. My husband is obviously a great father so they have really managed to work out a system to help me.”

The UMBC community has also been a source of support. Part of the reason she chose to come here is because of the on-campus preschool. Unfortunately, when Dixon started attending UMBC, the preschool had to close for renovations. Luckily, faculty were supportive when Dixon needed to bring her four-year-old son to class with her.

“My teachers would be completely fine with a four year old doodling in the corner and I couldn’t be more appreciative of that,” Dixon said. “It really made me feel welcome.”

Because of the encouragement of her teachers and the reopening of the preschool, Dixon was able to take daytime classes and spend the short time between classes and work with her family. Now in her last semester at UMBC, Dixon is close to reaching her newfound goals.