UF Law Student Balances Demands of Classes and Her Kids
While most law students are focused on just making it through the semester without failing a class, Kelley Kaye Hasson Abramowich is worried about trying to make a better life for herself and her three children.
The 28-year-old single mom and UF Law student spends her day juggling the needs of her children and her studies. Abramowich lives in a 668 square foot on-campus apartment with her three children, eight-year-old Katherine, five-year-old Elizabeth and three-year-old Arthur.
Before deciding to attend law school, Abramowich was a stay-at-home mother who home schooled her young children. But, that all was changed when she and her children were kicked out of their home by her abusive husband, and she had to provide for her children. “As a lawyer I would be able to provide a life I was never able to have,” Abramowich said.
While in law school, Abramowich is trying to keep her family’s finances afloat with help from food stamps, Medicaid, student loans and child support. She also budgets her finances by buying her clothes during off-season sales and searches on eBay for her children’s clothes. “We are very poor but we make it,” she said.
Abramowich is uncertain about her financial future but is considering many options. She is considering working as a paralegal, obtaining a job with her legal intern status or moving in with family while she studies for The Florida Bar. But, pending divorce orders will hinder her ability to relocate or apply for jobs.
A typical day for Abramowich begins at 6:30 a.m. with a battle to beat Katherine to the only bathroom in her cramped apartment. The morning begins with “a race for the toilet,” she said.
After prying the other two children, who are full of energy at any other time of the day, out of bed, she fixes the children breakfast, rushes the two girls to the bus stop and drops Arthur off at child care.
With the children off at school, Abramowich heads to the gym to get in one of her five workouts for the week. She makes this a routine for the sake of her mental and physical health, but she insists it’s mostly for her physical need. “You have to duct tape your body back together after having three children,” she said.
After her vigorous workout, she showers and puts on her power suit to attend classes. She takes her student career very professionally. It is important to go to class dressed like it’s a day at court, she said.
After classes, Abramowich picks up Arthur from child care and meets her two girls at the school bus stop. The family makes it a priority to spend the afternoons together. Their activities on any given weekday afternoon include ballet lessons, speech therapy for Elizabeth, trips to the museums, spending time at the library or looking for alligators at Lake Alice.
After her children wind down after their active day and crawl into bed at 8 p.m., Abramowich finally begins her studies that last until 11:30 p.m.
Even though Abramowich’s day is hectic, she remains joyous because she is truly grateful for her newfound freedom. She is still enthusiastic about life after ending an abusive marriage and being disowned by some of her family for leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I’m just so excited. I don’t have to ask permission to do anything – what to watch on TV, what to spend money on or when to study,” she said.
On top of managing a busy day with a rigorous schedule with her children, there is the added stress of finding the time to fulfill her passion for volunteer work.
Abramowich completed her Pro-bono and Community Service certifications in Fall 2007. She uses her past challenging experiences to provide hope and be an inspiration for others. “It makes me feel so good about myself – I can really help people. I’m a ray of hope that it can be done,” Abramowich said.
Abramowich has mixed feelings when it comes to receiving her degree and getting a job. She would no longer have the luxury of having afternoons available for spending time with her children.
But, she looks forward to helping others as a criminal defense attorney. “Lawyers make the best of a bad situation,” she said. “It’s nice to see I can help people and provide a living for my three children.”
The one reason why Abramowich is excited about getting a job is finally being able to fulfill her modest financial goals for her children, which include purchasing a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house and Florida Prepaid College Plans for each child.
Even though Abramowich’s journey throughout law school hasn’t been easy, she has never had any regrets. “What doesn’t kill me – makes me stronger,” she said.