Two IUPUC seniors who attended the same preschool in Columbus will graduate Saturday with college degrees.

Bailey Moss, 28, will receive a bachelor’s degree in English literature. Zech Rarey, 29, earned a bachelor’s degree in early elementary education with distinction in December but waited to graduate with his wife this month.

Both Moss and Rarey started at IUPUC in August 2009, and they caught the attention of educators while there.

“They are smart, creative and very accomplished,” said Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick, IUPUC assistant professor of English. “The seeds were already there. And since coming to IUPUC, they have honed those attributes.”

Moss has won several awards during her college time for being an outstanding woman student leader. She credits her preschool education as paving the way for her willingness to learn something new every day and for pursuing a college degree.

She grew up in rural Bartholomew County near the Brown County line. Rarey grew up in Jennings County.

They met as adults while working at Walmart in Columbus. After spending five years in retail, however, they made the joint decision to go back to school for a degree.

Family commitments complicated the couple’s return to classes. Their son, Liam Rarey, was born in 2006, a year after they eloped.

Finding child care for Liam was challenging because of the varying class schedules the couple had. Moss’ mother, Rebecca Moss, and her grandparents, Stuart and Jan Cundiff, offered their time to help the couple.

“Her grandparents and mother really stepped up,” Rarey said.

Moss said going to school at the same time allowed the couple to understand what each other was going through. She said she would advise other married couples to be patient with each other while enduring the struggles.

Time management critical

Moss said they would try to stagger their classes so one of them was home with Liam as much as possible.

Child care simplified when Liam started kindergarten. The couple worked to schedule their lives around the time Liam got out of school in order to spend family time together.

Rarey took on more night shifts as a cashier at Lowe’s and works part time as a substitute teacher. Moss works as a writing tutor in IUPUC’s Academic Resource Center.

Moss and Rarey found success in college in part due to admirable personality traits and impressive academic skills, Goodspeed-Chadwick said.

Some days tested their resolve, however, Rarey said.

Time management is critical to the family’s life, he said.

And Moss said she learned it’s fine to ask for help, which is something she didn’t understand right after they married.

During their college years, they moved several times and now live in a house on Sycamore Street. The moving, taking care of a small child and a full class schedule was tough enough to make her question if the couple would make it to graduation, Moss said.

But Rarey added, “You can’t be afraid to take risks.”

Not finished yet

Moss said her goal is to get a master’s degree and, someday, a doctorate. She said she wants to work in the field of women’s studies or mental health. Her long-term goal is to teach women’s studies at the college level.

Meanwhile, Moss is taking a couple of semesters off in hopes of getting experience working for a nonprofit such as Turning Point Domestic Violence Services or Cornerstone Autism Center, both in Columbus. She said she’s interested in working as an advocate for clients where there is injustice.

Rarey will teach summer school at Central Middle School. He said he hopes to secure a contract position at a local school to get experience before he pursues a master’s degree in elementary education.

Moss and Rarey said they are excited and overwhelmed about the future. On one hand, they will have diplomas Saturday, but in a sense they feel like they are starting over again, which she said they find somewhat scary.

“I feel like we have achieved so much through IUPUC,” Moss said. “I don’t think we could have done what we have done at another school. Everybody here has an open-door policy. It’s a very personal environment and a close-knit community.”

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IUPUC will host its 45th annual commencement celebration at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Columbus East High School gymnasium.

The IUPUC Class of 2015 has 289 graduates, up from 261 last year.

Commencement keynote speaker is Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann.

The commencement is open to the public. Free parking is available on the Columbus East High School campus.

For more information on this year’s graduates or graduation program, contact the Office of Communications and Marketing at 812-348-7377 or visit iupuc.edu.