“I come from a long line of strong, southern women,” said Stephanie Rogers who American Mothers Inc. named the 2015 Wisconsin Young Mother of the Year. She was raised in a suburb outside Charleston, South Carolina, called Goose Creek with her parents, Gordon and Sherry Bonitz, and her sister, whom she calls her best friend.
The motherly influences in her life inspired her to be a mom. “They are amazing human beings who spend their lives in the service of others. My grandmothers, my mother-in-law, also a southern gal, and my mother are all the kind of people who make other people better,” she said.
As a young adult she left South Carolina to attend college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. There she received a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a minor in humanities. After her freshman year, she moved into an apartment complex near campus where she met Ben Rogers. Three years later, they were married in the Columbia South Carolina Temple. They later moved to Wisconsin for his career.
Now with five children, ages 15 months to nine years old, she and her husband enjoy spending time together as a family. “Our favorite thing to do is go to the beach, whether it’s a Carolina beach or a slimy lake, we love it. Campfires, too, are just about as exciting as Disney World to our kids,” she said.
She calls their family an “east coast/west coast family” because her husband grew up in Lake Tahoe, and she in South Carolina. Brother and Sister Rogers think it’s important for their children to visit these areas and know where they come from. “Our vacations are spent keeping those ties close and giving our kids a strong sense of where they come from,” she said. “We make the effort in our limited time off to drive across the country, east and west, so they know their cousins and the wonderful heritage of our country. I feel so blessed that my children know and love not only their grandparents, but their great-grandparents as well. By visiting them they see their family history live and in person.”
Sister Rogers loves her role as a mother but agrees that it can be difficult at times. “Being a mother can sometimes feel like you are surrounded by an ocean of people who need you and you are the only one keeping them afloat. It can be lonely and overwhelming, but the gospel is what helps keep me afloat,” she said.
She is grateful for the spirit and guidance she feels when studying the gospel. “Because I was taught at an early age how to feel peace in prayer, how to find answers in the scriptures, comfort in hymns, I am able to use those things to help me get done what needs to be done.”