KOKOMO, Ind. – Someday soon, Leon Babb plans to work for Veteran’s Affairs (VA) as a medical imaging technologist, while his wife, Alexius Babb, is a psychologist for the VA, or has her own private practice.
He’s taking one more step toward making their plan a reality, completing an Associate of Science in Radiography from Indiana University Kokomo.
“All the sacrifices we’re making now will be worth it, for our family to have a better quality of life,” said Babb, who lives in Kokomo. “We’ll have a new house, the kids can be in more activities, and we will be doing a lot more traveling. We don’t want to wait until we retire to see the world. We want to enjoy it while we are young, and give the kids that experience.”
It wasn’t that long ago that the Babbs both worked retail jobs, one of them working nights while the other worked days, so someone could be home to care for their three small children.
“We weren’t seeing each other much, and we were barely making ends meet,” said Leon Babb. “We knew for our family to have better quality of life, we needed to get our education.”
After Alexius Babb completed her degree in psychology, it was Leon Babb’s turn. He had previously started a degree in mechanical engineering after graduating from high school, but decided it wasn’t for him. The parents of one of his good friends as a child were radiologic technologists, and had encouraged him to consider that field.
“They tried to talk me into it when I was 15, but I wasn’t paying attention then,” he said. “I like technology, and getting to work with people. I did my research and decided it was the right thing for me.”
Babb plans to continue his education at IU Kokomo, by earning a bachelor’s degree in medical imaging technology. He’s on track to complete that degree in May 2020.
While he’s been in school, he’s also been the full-time caregiver to his son, who is 12, and twin daughters, who are 9, while Alexius Babb is in Chicago, more than halfway to earning a Doctor of Psychology. With no relatives in the area, all the responsibility is on him — though he noted his mother-in-law has come from Alabama to help several times, and he is thankful for her assistance.
Now that Leon Babb has an associate degree, he plans to go back to work, so Alexius Babb can work less and come home more often.
They decided together that she would go to Chicago while he stayed in Kokomo with the children, to maintain stability. Leon Babb moved frequently as a child —from Guyana in South America to New York, then New Jersey, and later to South Carolina and Alabama, and didn’t want his own children to have the same experience.
“We didn’t want to uproot the kids until we finished everything,” he said. “Then we’ll make a big move if we need to. My son was born in Alabama, and we moved here when he was 1. Our girls were born here. They’ve only known Kokomo. If we decide to move, we’re only going to do it once, we’re not going to be bouncing them around. No major life changes until we’re all graduated, and then we will decide where we want to set some roots and stay permanently.”
It’s not easy not having their family together right now, he said, but it’s part of a bigger plan, and a bigger goal, with their children as his inspiration.
“They keep me going,” he said. “I don’t know if I would have gone back to school if I didn’t have my family. They drive me.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.