I take my eight-year-old daughter to school functions to ensure she sees what I’m doing and, hopefully, understands the value of getting an education. It’s important for me to have her be part of my higher education journey because she and my new baby are the biggest reasons why I don’t give up even when life makes it hard to continue pursuing your dreams.
Since I had my first daughter at 17, I’ve worked hard to ensure I can give her a better upbringing than I had. I enrolled in a community college in the fall of 2014 and have been going to college on and off since then.
Along my journey, I’ve had several challenges come my way like not having enough financial support to continue my studies. I’ve worked full time most of my college career to ensure I could pay for tuition and help provide for my family, but the unexpected surprises that life throws at you have forced me at times to drop classes or put my education on pause altogether.
As a student and a parent, it’s can be tough juggling the demands of two entirely different workloads and, sometimes, it’s enough to push one to quit. The odds are usually not in the favor of student-parents as there seems to be little support to ensure student-parents complete their higher education in a reasonable timeframe.
Personally, the lack of financial support to help me pay for my degree in nursing and almost nonexistent advertisement of resources for student-parents on campus have made it harder for me to finish my degree on time.
As we enter a new year in the coming weeks, I truly hope that more attention is paid to the experiences of student-parents in Illinois and that educators, legislators, advocates, and student-parents can all work together to find meaningful solutions to the current challenges affecting the student-parent population. Student-parents are a steadily growing population on college campuses and it only makes sense to work to ensure their success with college.
Jocelyn Ramirez is the proud mother of two beautiful daughters and a student-parent advocate in Chicago, Illinois.