She focused on raising Jezayla and trying to make the relationship with Jezayla’s father work. However, after multiple attempts to raise their child together the couple split and Deanna became a single mother.
“You shouldn’t try and stay in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship just for the kids, because in the long run they’re going to be the ones that are unhappy and unhealthy,” Close said.
In 2014 Close decided to enroll at WKU to pursue a four-year degree. That same year, Deanna met her fiancé, Carl Vollmerhausen, 33, through an online dating site. After a couple months together she became pregnant with their son William. “We hit it off super-duper quick,” Close said. “It was like it was meant to be.”
Vollmerhausen assumed most of the financial responsibility for the family so that Deanna could be a full-time student and focus on her studies.
“He wants me to be successful,” Close said. “So he’s done the majority of the work and provided for us financially so that I could do this for us, because he knows that the investment that he’s making now into my education will pay off in the future.”
Having to provide for children and pay tuition can be extremely difficult for some families, especially in recent years. Higher education costs have increased. According to a report from the College Board in 2018, in a comparison of tuition rates in the 2008-09 and 2018-19 school years, the average tuition rose 26 percent at private nonprofit four-year colleges, 35.3 percent at public four-year colleges, and 34 percent at public two-year colleges.
Likewise, there has also been an increase in the cost of raising children. According to a 2016 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, the average cost of raising a child born in 2015 is $233,610. This is an increase of over $25,000 since 1990, according to a 24/7 Wall St. article in 2011 that estimated the previous years' costs for raising children using past USDA statistics.
Sources: (https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/01/13/cost-raising-child) (https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=233%2C610&year1=201501&year2=201801) (https://247wallst.com/investing/2011/06/24/the-fifty-year-soaring-cost-to-raise-a-child/) (https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/tools/CRC_Calculator/default.aspx)
However, Close and Vollmerhausen face even more challenges beyond financial ones. Vollmerhausen currently lives in Michigan with his father because it is easier for him to find work connections there compared to Bowling Green. The distance has been difficult on Close and the kids, but nightly video chats and occasional visits make it easier on them.
“It has its pros and its cons,” Close said. “I do want him home, but you gotta do what you gotta do. You gotta make sacrifices to make sure you can take care of your family.”
Despite the many obstacles she had to overcome, Close graduated on December 15, 2018, with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in neuroscience after only nine semesters at WKU. She was awarded the Ogden College Student Achievement Award for “a student that overcame adversity and persisted to graduation and achieved at a high level,” and she gave a speech to her fellow graduates.