From the outside, Kathryn Robison, 29, looks like any other graduate student on campus at Youngstown State University in Ohio. But as she’s finishing her master’s degree in American Studies, she’s also juggling another big responsibility: Caring for her grandmother. She recently took a year and a half break from school to serve as her grandmother’s primary caregiver in Raleigh, North Carolina, and now serves as a backup caregiver, since her mom took over the reins full time.
Robison originally volunteered for the role after a discussion with her mom. “My mom was saying, ‘I don’t know what we’re going to do. Someone has to be with MeMa, someone has to live with her.’ I said, ‘Do you want me to do it? I don’t have a family. I’m not dating anyone.’” The planned six months turned into a year and a half, and for part of the time, Robison commuted to her classes in Ohio by plane every week. “Paying for the plane tickets was less than the cost of having someone care for her,” she says.