Many students helped by Workforce funds face hurdles as they train for a new job, and Khumar Ibrar is no exception.
Khumar has excelled at Highline for four years, juggling classes and homework with the challenges of raising six young children.
She started pre-requisites for Highline’s Respiratory Care program when her twins were just six months old and her quadruplets were toddlers, and she hasn’t taken a quarter off since. Khumar is now on track to finish her Respiratory Care AAS degree this spring, with a GPA (at press time) of 3.7.
“If I didn’t get childcare, I couldn’t do anything,” said Khumar, who receives free child care through Workforce’s BFET program.
Workforce and Federal Financial Aid funds have also helped pay for her program.
Khumar moved to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1996, in her early 20s, with just one year of college under her belt. She came for better job opportunities and more freedom, she said.
For several years she worked customer service jobs, earning minimum wage, and for about five years worked as a rental car agent.
In 2007, she gave birth to quadruplets, three boys and a girl, now 7 years old, and stayed home to care for them. 18 months later she was pregnant with twins, who were born premies in 2010 and are now 4 years old.
At that point, she knew she needed to make a change.
“I decided instead of working minimum wage and not getting anywhere, I should start school,” Khumar said. “I couldn’t do full full time. I wanted something I could commit to. The trick was to start slow.”
She started taking pre-requisites at Highline in winter quarter 2011, when the twins were six months old. She took one class at a time and earned consistently high marks.
When her pre-requisites were done in summer 2013, Khumar jumped right into the Respiratory Care program, taking heavier credit loads.
“The kids are a little older,” Khumar said. “I have a system in place.”
Khumar gets up at 5 a.m. and gets herself and the kids ready for the day. The quadruplets attend school and an in-home babysitter watches the twins. Khumar is at school by 8 a.m., studies after class and leaves by 2 p.m. to pick up the kids from school.
Once home, the babysitter leaves and Khumar feeds the kids a snack, helps them with their homework and makes dinner.
“There is so much school stuff – homework, reading – four homeworks, all different because (the kids are in) different classes,” Khumar said. “Dinner is like a mini-restaurant because everyone’s yelling: ‘I want this, I want that!’”
After the kids go to bed – around 8:30 or 9 p.m. – it’s time for Khumar to study. Sometimes she’s up until 3 or 4 a.m. Other nights she promises herself a five minute power nap but wakes on the couch with a stiff neck.
“It’s a challenge,” she said. “The kids motivate me. It’s not just them, but mostly it’s them. I have to show them that education is so important. They are my responsibility now.”