On a frigid, snowy day in Dillon, Mont., Sheynoa Mataafa, a Hawaii native, does not regret her decision to move to Montana.
“The snow is actually really pretty,” she says through chattering teeth.
Sheynoa (Shey) came to Montana Western as a transfer student one year after her husband, Junior, attended UMW and played running back for the varsity football team. Junior soon encouraged her to come, and today both are full-time students, not to mention full-time parents of Jrney, 2, and Shior, 1.
“My family kept asking me about how I will go to school with two kids,” Mataafa explains. “It’s not that hard. The block makes it easier. I have class in the morning and then I have the rest of the day. I study when the kids are napping. If you make a schedule and stick to it, you’ll succeed.”
The Mataafas live in Montana Western’s family housing, which Shey says also helps balance their family and student lives.
My grades improved when I came here, and I think that’s because of the block.
Shey formerly attended Windward Community College in Hawaii working toward her Associate of Arts. She says her grades were not up to what she was capable of, but this changed upon coming to UMW.
“My grades improved when I came here, and I think that’s because of the block,” Mataafa explains. “When I went to school in Hawaii I didn’t even want to go to class. Here, I enjoy going to class and I always get my homework done.”
Mataafa plans to major in psychology to channel her interest in people and human emotions.
Though her grades wavered in Hawaii, Mataafa says her conviction to get a college degree never did.
“My mom always encouraged me to go to school and get a degree, so I always knew that I would.”
Today, Mataafa is well on her way to that degree while being both a mother and a wife in her own right.