Carolyn Washington “Math and English have my whole life on hold. But I’m going to knock ’em out!”

“I just spent seven hours with my math tutors, and sometimes it feels like a real struggle,” says Carolyn Washington, a single mother who is just two classes shy of her BA. “But I’ve got a tutor now that I can really relate with and she’s helping me turn math into a language that I can understand. And then I can finally get on with the show.”

The show Carolyn refers to is her professional life, and she has two distinctly different courses mapped out. “I’d really like to have my masters in school administration and start out teaching school,” she says. “And eventually I’d like to be a school principal.” But Carolyn also has some more glamorous goals in mind; at least for the near future. Show biz, you see, runs in the family.

Her father, Roy Gaines, is a legendary guitar player in the Los Angeles music scene and Carolyn grew up dreaming of theater and film. “I always loved Lena Horne when I was a little girl, and I guess I was a little star-struck back then,” she says. “So I’ve been going out on calls for commercials but, right now, if anyone calls me up for an audition I have to say, ‘uh, uh, sorry. But everything’s on hold until I get this math taken care of.’ It’s something I just have to do.”

Scheduling around the need of an eight-year-old son at home who needs a mom’s guiding hand is sometimes tricky for Carolyn. But she is determined to find the right balance with work, study, and parenting. “In five years,” she says, “you’re either going to find me sitting at the principal’s desk or looking out at your from the TV in a Pepsi commercial.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.