Student parents strive to succeed despite difficulty
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Being a college student is not always easy, however, being a student and a parent can be a bit more challenging.
Students like single parent, Alisha Donaldson accept the difficulty and choose to persevere.
Donaldson is the founder and president of The Student Parent Network (TSPN) organization on campus. The Student Parent Network was recognized as an organization last semester, but was formed a year prior to recognition.
This organization focuses on building and establishing community among student parents on campus. Donaldson said that members get together and do fun activities such as have picnics in the park, the purpose is for both the parents and children to enjoy the outdoors and one another’s company.
Donaldson has been collecting donations from people in order to provide emergency resources for struggling parents. However, there currently is not a designated area on campus for the items to be stored.
“In the future I would like to set up a retail store where people can donate to us year round and parents can purchase cheap items, and the purchases made will go back to fund The Student Parent Network to provide money for emergency resources, gatherings and Student Stand Our Award,” said Donaldson.
Donaldson shared that being a student parent is difficult because they are not traditional students and don’t have the opportunity to attend events and socialize as others do.
When Donaldson first started her journey at CSUSM she said she didn’t think joining an organization would be possible, she said she thought being a part of an organization meant investing a lot of time she didn’t have due to being a student parent. However, being the founder of an organization has changed her views.
“I want to get that idea out of people’s head, this organization isn’t meant to be something extra added to your plate or be something stressful. It’s a long-term benefit and you can gain success from it, I want people to know that they made the right choice coming back to school and that they’re not alone because this group supports them and there’s a lot of others just like them,” said Donaldson.
Donaldson said that it’s important for student parents to establish a community on campus and that there is an urgency to fight against the negative stigma that surrounds student parents.
“This is an opportunity to build and expand a community that is kind of invisible, We are a statistic and were doing everything we can not only to succeed but to survive, people don’t really understand the struggles and how hard it is. I notice that there is a negative stigma that surrounds student parents and a lot of parents don’t speak about being a parent or their struggles because they feel like no one around them will relate,” said Donaldson.
Vice president Breona Allison said that education is important to her and she went back to school because she wants to set an example for her daughter to follow.
“Being a student and a parent is a challenge. Our education is something many of us take more serious than the average student because our little ones are depending on us. We are their example,” said The Student Parent Network, Vice Breona Allison.
Former member, CSUSM graduate and Spring 2017, awardee of the Student Parent Standout award, Angelica Kraska shared her successful experience with the organization.
Kraska said The Student Parent Network was one of the most meaningful organizations she was involved in on campus
“They made me feel like I was not alone, as I was able to be around others who understood my struggles of juggling parenthood and college studies,” said Kraska.
Kraska said the organization also provided her with valuable resources, such as emergency food services a scholarship opportunity that is now helping pay for her graduate school textbooks.
“I want to thank The Student Parent Network from the very bottom of my heart and I hope the organization continues to grow and help many other student parents like myself,” said Kraska
Donaldson said, there needs to be more acceptance and support for student parents on campus.
“It’s really hard when professors and staff aren’t understanding, I don’t want excuses made for me and I don’t expect to receive an A just because I’m a parent but what I’m asking for is a little bit of flexibility. I may get sick, my son may get sick, there’s days his school may be closed and I’m unable to attend because child care is hard to find, having more of an acceptance and understanding on campus would be amazing,” said Donaldson.
Donaldson suggested that CSUSM provides options on enrollment applications that allow students to specify if they have a dependent. In result it would lead people in in the right direction in terms of what resources are available on campus. Such as receiving information about child care offered on campus.
“There is such a lack of support here on campus and I think it’s because people aren’t aware of the issues, that’s what I am trying to do, I want to raise awareness and bring that attention and support that we need,” said Donaldson.
Allison said that the organization is run with passion and heart and encouraged parents on campus to consider joining the network despite busy schedules.
“The ladies are supportive, kind and welcoming and I am beyond glad to say I am a member of such an organization. We are parents encouraging other parents to keep going, not to give up no matter what and we remind each other daily, who we are doing this for,” said Allison.