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Setting a goal and reaching it

Marilyn Rosiek knows all about the long hours that moms put in both at home and in the workplace.

She knows about the rewards that come from that work, too.

And now, so do her children.

"What I've learned from her," said Marilyn's son Tristan, 14, "is that all this tough work really pays off."

Southtowns resident Rosiek, who has two children with her husband of 24 years, has worked hard since her teenage years -- even when her kids were small -- to help provide for her family.

There were times when she worked six days a week at a Hamburg gas station, starting at 5 a.m., after dropping her baby off at a relative's house.

There were times when Rosiek and her husband, Matthew, would barely see each other, since Matthew worked the overnight shift at a local food plant.

"We joked about that," said Rosiek, smiling and shrugging. "That we were both 'single parents.'"

Rosiek figures that her family might have made it financially if she had not worked -- at least part time, some 30 hours a week, but mostly full time -- all those years.

But, she said, they wouldn't have been able to purchase their home, a modest split level in Orchard Park. They bought the house, near a picturesque creek and some woods, as a fixer-upper; they have done much of the renovation work themselves.

And they surely wouldn't have been able to send their children to private schools for the educations that Rosiek and her husband put such a high value on.

"You do what you have to do," said Rosiek, who has worked for 17 years at the Pier One store in Hamburg, the last four as store manager.

And it seems to have worked very well for the family.

Their daughter, Ashley, 22, graduated from Alfred University last spring with a degree in comparative cultures and languages, and is now traveling through Australia with some friends for a few months.

Their son, Tristan, will start high school this fall at his dad's alma mater, St. Francis in Athol Springs.

For Marilyn and Matthew Rosiek -- who both finished their college educations through Empire State programs, after earlier studies at Daemen and Canisius College were interrupted -- the success of their children is a particular point of pride.

"Our goal was that Ashley goes to four years of [college] and finishes," said Marilyn. "It was super-important to us that she finish. And for her to pick up and go to Australia -- I would never have done that at her age. I would have been terrified.

"She is confident, unafraid -- not reckless, but confident. I hope I had something to do with it."

Tristan, who has been on the honor and merit rolls at his middle school, called his mother's attitude toward work and education an important example to him.

"She's pretty ... she's pretty tough," he said, of his mom. "She's pretty strong-headed. And she's very kind, and likable. There's a lot of people that like her."

"I see my mom and my dad, they kind of work together. I've learned that," he said.

Tristan, who said he is thinking of studying to be a corrections officer, said he is looking forward to high school next fall.

And, he said, he wants to be just like his mom and get a job himself once he is old enough.

"It pays off," he said.