Kwashae Ruffin: A Trio of Love

Kwashae Ruffin in her graduate cap and gown with her husband.

New beginnings are nothing new to Kwashae Ruffin. So when her husband, Ernest, was offered a dream job at Amazon earlier this semester, the pair and their three girls — 7, 4 and 3 months — plus a 14-year-old niece that the pair have guardianship of, packed up and relocated from their home in Texas to Riverside, California.

“My mom was not happy,” recalled Ruffin with a little laugh. She was 36 weeks pregnant at the time. “We got the offer at the end of January, but we didn’t know about the coronavirus. Still, we decided to step out in faith and do this.”

The move, made a month after she gave birth, marked the end of Ruffin’s six-year educational journey at Texas Woman’s University, where she completed her bachelor’s degree in business in 2017 and, most recently, will graduate with an MBA with an emphasis in management this May through the TWU College of Business—making her the first in her family to go to college and the first to graduate with an advanced degree.

“My parents always wanted to do more in life, but life hit them at young ages,” she said. “Coming from a small town, they didn’t have a lot of opportunities. They just accepted what was there.”

Determined to change their family tree, Ruffin’s parents instilled in her a love for education. It was a love that would eventually be tested.

A new chapter

After graduating from high school, Ruffin decided to move.

“There were more job opportunities moving to a bigger city,” she said. With that, she relocated from Ardmore, Oklahoma, to Denton, Texas.

While completing her associate’s degree locally, Ruffin met and married her husband and gave birth to her first daughter. Ruffin wanted more for her new family. She discovered TWU while working at a local hotel, and soon, was on the path toward two more degrees through business programs.

Along the way, she endured incredible loss.

The first, came with her grandfather, Charles, who died in 2015. Then, she lost a daughter in 2018, due to a disorder known as Acrania, in which the skull of an infant doesn't fully form in the womb. She named her daughter, Karrae, after her dad, Karry, who was still alive. The following year, her father passed away. Through the pain, she found healing.

“School always brought a smile to my face,” she said. “Being in school was the way I connected with my mother and father; it was always a comforting place for me. That was like therapy for me.”

It was also at TWU that Ruffin realized she could pursue a longtime dream of writing a book.

A novel approach

Kwashae Ruffin in a graduation cap and gown smiles with her two children

“Before, I didn’t see myself making it a career,” she recalled. “In my mind, and having a young child, I needed to make sure we were stable. I was in survival mode. I didn't weigh all my options because I didn’t think I had a lot. But at TWU, I realized I don’t have to limit myself to working for someone else. I realized I could actually get my hands in different things that I enjoy doing.”

With each new TWU degree came a new daughter, a renewed passion for her love of writing and an interest in entrepreneurship.

“My children motivated me to get into children’s books even more,” she said. “They enjoy telling stories and making up their own books. I told myself, ‘If I’m going to write and get serious as a writer, I want to give them something that we can do together.’ For them to be so young they really help me.”

Currently, she has completed her first children’s book and is working with an illustrator in hopes of having it published. Eventually, she plans to open her own publishing arm and said the business side of her Texas Woman’s degree is making the dream a reality.

“This is something I would like to pass on to my children,” Ruffin added. “I can write the way I want to write and have more freedom to publish the type of content I like and not have to rely on other people to approve the content. Also, my children enjoy writing and at some point, I want them to be able to publish as well.”

Currently, Ruffin stays home with her niece, Chaliyah, and her daughters, Sonali, Aurelia and Zerrin, who, like her stillborn daughter, all have names related to gold—she’s dubbed them “golden girls.” Ruffin added that she intends to return to work once her youngest is school age.

“My education at TWU prepared me for my career, and it also helped me raise up other women in my family,” she said. “As the mother of three girls, I want them to see that women can lead. Even though I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, there’s more I still have to accomplish and do. The completion of one chapter is also the beginning of another.”

Page last updated 5:43 PM, May 14, 2020