October 13, 2016

Women's Center assists student parents

College can be tough for the average student, but when you have a job and children, college can become even more challenging.

Student parents not only have to worry about homework and exams but also have to overcome challenges such as finding a babysitter so they can attend classes, finding time for themselves and maintaining a job.

Justine Sommer, a junior at Cleveland State knows all too well how hard it can be to balance college, a child and a full-time job. Sommer has a 3-year-old daughter and said that juggling all three can be difficult.

“It has its challenges, but having my daughter has made me more determined to finish my degree,” she explained. “It's hard having a job too, but it's just something I have to do. Luckily, it fits in with my schedule during the day, so it doesn't affect my time with my little one in the evening.”

Saja Abid, health science/pre-physician assistant major, said being a mother and student is hard as well because she has limited time with her son while she attends school.

"It is very hard being a mother and student because I don't get to spend a lot of time with my son and I don't feel we have a strong connection," she said.

Although life as a student parent can be difficult, Sommer said that being a parent is well worth it even though it means less time for other things.

“It's hard, but worth it,” she said. “I don't have as much time to study and very little time to socialize, but having a child has been the best blessing I've ever had in my life.”

Many parents like Sommer are unaware of some of the resources CSU offers to student parents.

“I don’t know of any resources that are offered here [CSU]," Abid said. "I've never seen a mothers/parenting group. It would be wonderful if more was offered to us.”

Cleveland State University Women’s Center has resources for parents such as Sommer. Assistant Director of Resource Centers Jillian Keller shared in an interview all that the Women’s Center offers.

Keller said that the Women’s Center offers some space, support and services for parents.

“We offer a mother’s room here [in the Women’s Center] and there is also another mother’s room on campus in a different building," Keller said. "Both of them offer a place where student parents can study."

“The rooms both have a refrigerator, whether they need to keep their lunch or milk in there, as well as a microwave," Keller explained. "The rooms can be used if women need to pump while studying or doing anything else. We know that student parents need to multi-task all the time."

Aside from designated spaces for students, the Women’s Center also has a lending library. They can also connect student parents to other resources, whether it be on or off campus.

“We have a small lending library in the Women’s Center, so if moms and dads want to read with their kids and they don’t have time to make another stop in their day, they can check something out in the library,” Keller said. “We also can connect student parents to other resources on campus as well as things off campus that they may not know they can take advantage of.”

The Women’s Center works with all student parents and Keller says she believes Cleveland State does a good job of supporting parents.

Keller said that everyone on campus should be aware of the journey student parents have. She wants student parents to know that the Women’s Center is there to help them, no matter the situation.

“I think everyone should be aware of what it means to be a student parent and be understanding of the journey they have, because it is not easy,” Keller said. “I want them to know that we are here to support and help them.”


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