Kiesha Sainci is a pro when it comes to juggling.
Case in point: She did this interview while also attending to an infant.
A working mom of four, the 30-year-old never anticipated she’d have a big family, or call Iowa home for nearly 20 years. However, following her heart and her faith has shown her that anything is possible.
Faith and family first
Born in Texas as Kiesha Tuck and the product of a military family, Kiesha became accustomed to moving around at an early age, living in Panama — where her brother was born and where she learned to speak Spanish — Japan and Italy all before finishing high school.
The family was a tight-knit unit.
“It was a very strict, Christian household,” Kiesha said. “Faith and family was our first priority. As a family, we volunteered in the community. In Japan, we mentored and taught English. In exchange, we learned about all these different cultures.”
It was during her junior year of high school that she met a recruiter from the University of Dubuque, who spoke with her about what the school might have to offer her.
“After living overseas for so long, I couldn’t really see myself in Iowa,” Kiesha said, laughing. “I thought if I did end up in the States, I would be someplace in the south, like Alabama or Texas.”
Still, UD continued pursuing her. And so, Kiesha decided to include it among the schools to which she was applying for college. Much to her surprise, UD won her over, and she ended up enrolling there in 2007.
“There was something about UD and Dubuque,” Kiesha said. “Especially growing up in a military family where people are looking after you, I found a great experience at UD and a sense of community in Dubuque.”
She also found her future husband.
Love and marriage
During her freshman year studying criminal justice and sociology at UD, Kiesha met sophomore Anderson Sainci. After sharing mutual friends and eventually forming their own bond, the couple began dating in 2008.
Two years later, the couple became engaged and welcomed their first child, Ayden. However, Kiesha was amid finishing her degree. Thanks to her college adviser Angela Simon, an assistant professor who was instrumental in making criminal justice one of the leading majors at UD, Kiesha stayed the course in completing her studies.
“I was still in my first semester of my junior year in college when I got pregnant with my first son,” Kiesha said. “I found in Angela Simon a good mentor. She really helped me to navigate that whole situation, encouraged me to finish school and decide what I wanted for the rest of my life and my future.”
Kiesha and Anderson said their “I dos” on June 3, 2011, following graduation.
With Ayden now 9, the couple has since welcomed three more children: Abreayia, 7; Aiyanna, 5; and Azaiah, almost 7 months.
“It was never in the plans to have a big family,” Kiesha said, with a laugh. “But we have been very blessed. We’re done now, though.”
A mighty balance
Continuing to make their home in Dubuque, the Sainci family maintains busy schedules.
Kiesha is approaching her ninth year working as a regulatory analyst at Prudential Financial, while Anderson went on to earn his master of arts in communication from UD and is the resource management coordinator for the City of Dubuque.
The family also is actively involved with several community organizations, including Opening Doors, for which Kiesha has served as a board member since 2018. It’s an organization she is intensely passionate about.
“There are many challenges our city faces, and we have to do what we can to address these challenges,” Kiesha said of her involvement with Opening Doors. “We have to do the work, not just talk about it.”
The Sainci children also are involved in multiple activities, primarily with the Dream Center in Dubuque and with an emphasis on education.
“The activities our children are involved in at the Dream Center are education-based, with a family environment aspect to it so the kids are learning to respect others outside of the home as well,” Kiesha explained. “They are also learning sportsmanship and team-building by participating in the sports or in arts and music.”
Through activities at the Dream Center, Kiesha said it also gives her children an opportunity also to be surrounded by children who look like them.
“That’s important that they don’t feel alone or marginalized,” she said. “Dubuque has grown in its diversity, but it is still important to recognize inclusivity and that all are represented.”
Keeping it together
Routine is key in the Sainci household.
“Every morning, the first thing the kids do when they wake up is thank God,” Kiesha said. “Then, they eat before school. Most of the kids can help make their breakfast. When they go to school, we also remind them to be their best. And when they get home, there are extracurriculars, and we do volunteer work as a family.”
While Kiesha might appear as though she’s mastered everything that comes with playing Mom to a big family, she’s quick to point out that she takes each day as it comes.
“I am no way am I a perfect mom,” Kiesha said. “As much organizing and planning I try to do, there are times when that just doesn’t work, and that is OK. As a working mom of four young children, it can be overwhelming to think of what you need to do when you get home from work, which is why I do try to plan it out. And when it doesn’t happen, it just doesn’t happen.”
Anderson, who continues to share date nights with Kiesha, has other thoughts.
“I think Kiesha helps our whole family align our faith and our values,” he said. “It’s faith, family and community, in that order, and she knows just how to keep our family uplifted. She is the glue keeping us all together.”
And, Anderson said, she’s pretty handy around the house.
“When it comes to fixing anything that has to do with the house, she’s on it,” he said, laughing. “I’ve seen my wife fix a toilet, break the stove apart and put it back together.”
“She’s a woman of faith, and she’s passionate about putting her time and energy into those spaces to build community and for our kids to be a part of that,” he said. “As partners, I try to be a mirror of her. She’s beautiful, She’s intelligent. She’s everything. I’m lucky to have found her. ‘Awe’ is really the only word to describe the amazing person she is.”
Megan Gloss is the Features Editor for the Telegraph Herald.