MERRILLVILLE | Roshanta Buggs contends her family is hugely competitive and maintains an ongoing friendly rivalry at home.
Buggs, 44, of Merrillville, will earn an associate degree in business in December at Indiana Wesleyan University. She has set an example to family and friends showing them how she "works smarter" by going back to school. She plans to move through the program, eventually earning a bachelor's degree in business management, then will go directly into the master's program.
"It's a steady flow. What I really like about Indiana Wesleyan is that there are small goals, small milestones to reach," she said. "You graduate every two years. Instead of one four-year stretch, students can earn the associate degree in two years. In another two years, you get the bachelor's degree. I really appreciate that.
"For someone like me, it means I don't give up. I'm already done with a year, two years and I've got my associate, then the bachelor's. It's good for me," Buggs said, adding she takes one class at a time because of her family and work schedule.
Buggs is the assistant valet manager at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond. She's been working in a valet department for 14 years, and also has earned a certificate from Sawyer Business College and is a certified nursing assistant. Buggs also attended Leadership Northwest Indiana in 2007.
Buggs and her middle child, son Kenneth, 20, a student at Vincennes University, find it fun and encouraging to compete with each other on grades. Buggs and her daughter, Kaila, 13, often do their homework together in the afternoon.
Buggs' oldest son Keenan, 23, plans to enroll at Indiana University Northwest in Gary.
"The household challenge is, 'Mama better not graduate before I do,' " Buggs said, noting she'll earn her associate degree before both her sons graduate.
Buggs said she has a 3.747 grade point average at Indiana Wesleyan and loves the school and her study group, and took her daughter along once to give her firsthand experience watching a group of university students work together.
Buggs said her children are proud of her, and tell her so often. "They ask me about my grade point average and I turn it around and say, 'What's your grade point average?' " Bugg said, laughing that her grades are higher.
"If they are struggling in something or I am struggling in something, I'll ask them how to do it. My oldest son excels in math and will help me," Buggs said.
The family doesn't just compete with grades; they also enjoy a good run. Buggs said she began running about five years ago. This year, she participated in the Shamrock Shuffle 8K in Chicago in March and also ran in the 2014 Energizer Night Race 5K in Chicago June 7. Buggs said her son Kenneth drove in from Vincennes to join her.
"We ran along Lake Shore Drive. We started off together, then he said, 'I'll see you at the finish line,' " she said. "I couldn't believe he beat me. It was 15 minutes before I made it to the finish line."