Balancing work and school: How DeVry student Marco Ruiz does it

By DeVry University

Marco Ruiz is driven, but saying that hardly does him justice. One word can't sum up a person who spends up to 15 hours a day improving himself and his career. It can't encompass his passion for setting a positive example for his children to do their best. And it seems inadequate in the context of his promise he made to his mother.

"Mediocrity is what kills success," said Ruiz, a DeVry University student in Irving, Texas. "Success is always striving for better, and giving the best of yourself. That's what I try to do." That starts at 7:45 a.m. five days a week, when he arrives at his job as a workforce management analyst for GameStop. He says he genuinely enjoys working there, but his career aspirations are far higher and have a different scope than his current role.

At his core, Ruiz has a passion for people and his goal – his "dream come true" – is to be able to merge his company with his passion to impact peoples’ lives. That’s why when his work hours end, he doesn't leave GameStop. He stays long into the night working toward his degree in business administration with a specialization in human resource management. "Education is what opens doors and more opportunities," said Ruiz, 38. "That's why I stay late at work. It's quiet, I can focus, and it allows me to execute my plan."

Ruiz plans his classes diligently, which is important when balancing work and school. That, along with flexible learning, allows him the occasional opportunity to compress his work into shorter periods if necessary, to get a little extra family time. "Doing what I do with the planning, and being able to take my classes with DeVry my way gives me the flexibility I need," Ruiz said. "I'm taking my son to a concert for his birthday on a day I typically designate for school. I can take the day off and not fall behind in class."

That family time is very important to Ruiz. It’s why he routinely sits down to dinner with his children to talk through all he and they are going through as he pursues his degree. "I tell them I miss them," Ruiz said. "I'd obviously rather be spending time with them than doing school work, but they understand. I hold them to a high standard in their school work. So I have to hold myself to the same standard. That's why I stay as late as I do. I could just get a B, but I want to get as close to 100% on everything I do."

That high standard extends to the promise he made to his mother, which was that he’d go back and finish school – something he'd put on hiatus while tending to her when she was sick. "When I get my degree, knowing that I did it for her and my family, it's going to feel great," Ruiz said. "It will be like a marathon runner crossing the finish line; that high you get. I'll know I'll have pushed myself, and I'll have made it."

This article was originally published in February 2018.

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