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College student adjusting to life as a dad: 'I'm trying to learn everything on the fly' (IL)

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lex Morgavan hustled to the parking lot outside his family’s car repair business to look at a customer’s flat tire. When he rushed back inside, the phone rang. Again.


“Thanks for calling Valparaiso Car Care and Transmission. How can I help you?” he asked. “Sure, OK, hold on a second.”


Morgavan bolted from the small office into the repair shop to check on a vehicle. When he returned, he told another waiting customer, “We’re working on it.”


The 22-year-old boyish man can say the same thing regarding most everything in his whirlwind life these days — his multiple job duties at the family business, his ongoing business management classes at Valparaiso University, his romantic relationship with 21-year-old girlfriend, Alyson Feczko.


And, as of 11:10 a.m. Nov. 27, the birth of the couple’s daughter Nova.


Morgavan’s “working on it.” All of it. Every day.


“Look at that smile,” Morgavan proudly told me, showing off a photo of his baby from his cell phone. “I can’t believe I have a daughter.”


Named for the classic model of a 1970 Chevy that Morgavan has been rebuilding for years, Nova was born one month premature, weighing just over four pounds. She was immediately put in the neonatal intensive care unit at Porter Regional Hospital and is currently receiving medical treatment.


“She's definitely our little miracle,” Feczko said from the hospital. “We are hoping she returns home in the next two weeks.”


Both parents have been staying with Nova almost ‘round the clock since her C-section birth. They arrive at the hospital early in the morning, before Morgavan has to leave for work, then classes, then back to work, then back to the hospital, then finally back home late at night.


“I don’t want to miss anything with my baby daughter,” he said.


His father, John Morgavan, opened the family business more than 40 years ago. The repair shop on Lincolnway has been in operation for nearly that long.


“I kind of grew up with this business,” Alex Morgavan said.


As a kid, he would hang out in the back office, watching TV and doing homework. As a teenager, he washed vehicles, changed tires, and ran errands.


“My specialty is repairing tires, I guess,” Morgavan said.


While managing the business with his father, he also drives the shop’s tow truck, handles the related junkyard, and sells used cars at the family’s property on U.S. 30. Plus, he takes care of the shop’s in-house financing, obtains missing titles for vehicles, and greets customers.


Oh, and he sells fireworks from the storefront in the summer.


“And he loves towing vehicles out of ditches during snowstorms,” said Neal Guidarelli, Morgavan’s friend and former coworker at the shop. “This is actually how he met Alyson.”


It was a wintry day when Morgavan was using his trusty tow truck to pull vehicles up an icy hill in rural Valparaiso. One was being operated by Feczko, who agreed to Morgavan’s complimentary assistance. She didn’t end up tipping him, but she contacted him on social media a month later.


“It truly was a blessing in disguise getting my car stuck that night,” Feczko said.


“We plan to get married very soon,” Morgavan added.


Last week, they went out for dinner and overheard other college students their age bragging about “drinking and blacking out every weekend.”


Morgavan laughed at the memory.


“We can’t do anything like that. We never did anyway,” he said. “Hey, we’re parents now.”


Remember when you were a young parent and your life was swamped with a tough job or endless school or hot romances or crying babies. Or, like Morgavan, all of them at once? I do. We look back now wondering how we managed to pull it all off. Somehow, we did, though.


“Yeah, my life is at maximum capacity,” Morgavan said. “I’m just trying to keep it together.”


On the day I shadowed Morgavan, he had already attended morning classes at VU, where he’s in his fourth year, with an expected graduation date early next year. He attends classes three days a week, with another class on Wednesday nights.


“I was on VU’s track team, but I couldn’t keep up with it,” he said.


Morgavan and Feczko live with his parents, where a nursery was recently completed for Nova.


“I had to miss Sunday church to finish it,” Morgavan said with a shrug.


Feczko calls Morgavan a “natural” as a young father.


“Oh my, he’s amazed me,” she said. “The smile he gets on his face when he sees our baby girl melts my heart every time. You can feel the love and happiness radiating from him. He's being the best father he can be. There's no doubt about that.”


“Alex will do anything for anyone,” added Guidarelli, who drove from his Indianapolis home to personally congratulate Morgavan after Nova’s unexpected birth.


Morgavan understands that he needs to find just the right balance between work, school, fatherhood, and couple-hood.


“I’m trying to learn everything on the fly,” he said before leaving the shop for his next class at VU. “The important thing is, I want to be present for my baby no matter how busy I get here.”


With that, he hopped into his car, a Volvo station wagon.


“I know, it’s a dad car,” Morgavan said sheepishly, even though he owned it before becoming a father. “It’s kind of my style.”



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