Mom of 2, marketing major achieved finish line online

Degree of difficulty

Mom of 2, marketing major achieved finish line online

On one hand, Bethany Russell didn’t have to have a bachelor’s degree. A mother of two, she has a fulfilling life and great job experience in two fields. But Bethany, 26, wanted this degree. And she wasn’t going to wait any longer.

And the wait is over on Saturday when Russell, a marketing major, will receive her diploma from Midwestern State University’s Dillard College of Business Administration.

Russell completed her work as an online student with a newborn, her and her husband Joshua’s second child. She said the student part of her life was the “easiest part” of that process.

“The balance is often non-existent,” Bethany said. “When I am succeeding in one part, I know I am lacking in another. In these moments, I tell myself, ‘It’s just a season.’

“Life will not be this hard and chaotic forever. It passes with the seasons. This degree will benefit my whole family, so it’s worth it!”

Bethany Russell with husband Josh
Joshua and Bethany Russell.

Bethany grew up in a small town, Rainesville, Alabama. She graduated from high school in North Carolina in 2015. She married Josh when she was 16. She realizes now the odds of her being where she is today probably weren’t good. “Coming from a family who didn’t even finish high school, the statistics weren’t necessarily on my side,” Bethany said.

But hard work and family teamed up to beat those odds. She graduated high school a year early and began college full time (at Wayne Community College in Goldsboro, North Carolina) while working 40-plus hours per week. She wanted to get a doctorate in veterinary medicine. In 2018, she moved to Wichita Falls when Josh transferred to Sheppard Air Force Base. She worked at VCA Callfield Animal Hospital, which she considered a dream job.

Bethany continued to pursue her DVM at MSU Texas. She also saw how demanding the lifestyle was for doctors. At the same time, she had a long battle with fertility issues until she and Josh welcomed their first baby, Evelynn, in 2019. “I realized the lifestyle of vets wasn’t for me, and I changed my major in Fall 2020.” She also began working as an Agency Business Consultant for Farmers Insurance in 2021. In summer of 2022, Josh received orders to go to Eglin AFB in Destin, Florida. 

“I was worried I would lose all my progress with my degree, but I was able to complete

Bethany Russell while pregnant in early Fall 2023
Bethany Russell at 36 weeks as she was beginning her final semester of online classes at MSU Texas. Her son, Everett, is 11 weeks old.

it with online classes and attending via Zoom.”

In Fall 2023, Bethany and Josh welcomed Everett into the world. And she also took a new job. Through the sleep-deprived nights, Bethany could still see the finish line. The degree was so close, and she had come so far.

“I know I’m going to go even farther and become even more successful,” Bethany said. “My boss at Farmers told me I could quit school. I knew that I could, and I had every excuse to, and no one would blame me. But I would blame me, and I just couldn’t stop. I had an example to set for my daughter. I want her to know she can literally have it all. It’s all obtainable with traditional good old-fashioned hard work and determination.”

At MSU Texas, she found support throughout her journey. “Scott Manley (associate professor of Management) cared about me as a person and genuinely cared about the success of each student he came across,” she said. “I want to thank Curtis Knobloch (Dillard College of Business Administration adjunct faculty) for awakening my passion for business, and (Associate Professor of History) Josh Ashbrook made learning fun again. The military has a way of disrupting plans, and that’s just what happened to me. My advisor and the professors I had this last year went out of their way to get me to graduation. I am beyond thankful for them!”

And she’s grateful for her husband, Josh. “Super cheesy, but I could not have done this without my husband. He never once doubted my ability to juggle everything I have had going on in my life these past couple of years, and he never once gave me an out,” Bethany said. “The last semester, he specifically became Mr. Mom so I could focus on my new career and last semester of school.”

Beating the odds for Bethany took her family and his family, a few good friends, and an online support system from MSU Texas.

Bethany Russell with baby Everrett
Bethany Russell holds Everett, 11 weeks old. She and husband Joshua also have a daughter, Evelynn, age 4. All of them are shown in top feature photo.

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