Angie Ingram’s hands are full, a familiar pose for the mother of three young children.
As she surveys the evening’s offerings at the Oak Harbor Farmers Market, she cradles 6-month-old Violet Jane in a baby sling and keeps a watchful eye on 3-year-old Skyler, who is exhibiting an enormous burst of energy after chewing on a peanut butter cookie.
Aubrey, 8, watches her brother run around in circles and starts to bolt, but decides she better not contribute to the chaos.
Despite the activity going on around her, Ingram is unfazed, undistracted, stopping only to set down a half-flat of strawberries.
As a mental health counselor, mom and college student with a husband serving in the U.S. Navy, Ingram is used to juggling a lot at the same time.
“It’s only weird when I’m not busy,” she said.
Ingram, 28, is putting the finishing touches this summer on a third master’s degree from Brandman University.
She served seven years in the Navy, leaving in December, 2011, and has since used her Navy benefits to go after a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia College, followed by advanced degrees in psychology, organizational leadership and human resources from Brandman.
Although it won’t be until August when her human resources coursework is complete, Ingram’s completion of three master’s degrees was recognized during Brandman’s commencement ceremony April 30 in Oak Harbor.
“It’s really rare,” campus director Barb Bockman said. “I’ve only had a few of those in my career and I’ve been here 30 years.”
A long-distance runner, Ingram is used to life on the go.
She likes to start her day running four miles before taking her kids to daycare. She stays on the road with her job as an intensive outpatient clinician for Compass Health.
“I do untraditional therapy for people who have impairments who can’t leave the house or get to the office for traditional therapy,” Ingram said.
When her work day ends, her time as a mom and student begins. The load is lighter when her husband, William Ingram, an aviation technician with VAQ-136, is not away on sea duty.
Still, she has had many nights of putting the kids to bed and finishing a paper at midnight.
“Thankfully, I’m extremely organized, which really saved me,” she said. “But it’s been quite a struggle.”
And, in the process, she has surprised herself.
“I really like school, which is amazing because I didn’t in high school,” said Ingram, who attended high school in Sheboygan, Wis., before joining the Navy. “I always want to learn something new. I have a job where I’m trying to learn something that helps somebody else. I like to challenge myself.”
Ingram’s organizational skills have allowed her to succeed, according to Mary Ellen Schief, her student advisor at Brandman who remembers seeing her carry a binder filled with research notes when she discussed entering the master’s programs.
Ingram found that Brandman’s blended format of online and traditional classes made her post-graduate pursuits more achievable with a family.
“I didn’t want a strictly online program, and Brandman was beginning to offer blended courses at the time,” Ingram said. “I was working and pregnant, and knew a traditional classroom wouldn’t work for me. Meeting for class for three hours, and then being able to do the rest on my own schedule worked for me.”
She said everything has revolved around time management, which might be contagious.
“She’s extremely organized,” Bockman said. “Her husband also attends Brandman and she has him all organized.”
William Ingram calls his wife “one of the strongest and determined women I know of.” He said on top of everything else, she inspired him to go back to school and has been a motivating force and big supporter during the time he earned an associates degree at Brandman recently. He said her support continues while he works to complete his bachelor’s degree.
“While I can say I helped her watch our three children while she spent hours upon hours writing papers for her assignments,” William Ingram said, “it was really her that kept the family moving along.”