There was a time when college and mother were barely said in the same sentence. It was thought that if a woman had a baby too young, she would not be able to educate herself. In recent years, however, this has changed.
Young mothers began to realize that getting an education was not only their right but their responsibility to themselves and their children. With the rise of college women with children, many people wonder how they manage to do it.
While having a child does not mean that your life is over, it does mean that you have to have excellent time management skills.
“The biggest challenge for me is balancing school, work, dance and my child and still find time for me,” says Ashaki Thomas,a senior from Ruston who has a three year old daughter.
Many of these young women take a full course load, are involved in campus activities, and work. To most of us, these things may seem impossible but it is an average day for a college mother.
Even though young ladies with children are succeeding like never before, negative stereotypes persist. “People think that because you have a child, you are living off of the state,” said Audria Gatson, a graduating senior from Farmerville who has a five year old son. Some people feel that because a college female has a child and her own place that she is automatically on some type of welfare. This is clearly not the case because many of them work full time and pay full price for everything they have. Another misconception is that a girl with a child will eventually drop out of school.
“People think you won’t make it,” says Latoria Davis, a sophomore native of Ruston who has a six year old daughter. While the public continues to hold these views, determined young women like the ones I interviewed will continue to prove them wrong. With the growing number of student parents, the university should be doing things to meet their unique needs, right? Well, many are unsatisfied with the action that the school has taken. There is a daycare center, but it closes early and it will not take any children under the age of three.
This leaves a lot of people at a disadvantage because many of these young mothers have infants. There is no support system for those who have to work at night either. Also disturbing is the fact that there is no housing for student parents and their children. For these reasons many mothers are forced to leave their children at home and are unable to be a constant part of their lives.
With the enormous amount of stress that they endure, some may think that collegiate mothers may wish that they had waited to give birth, but when asked this question in all three of my interviews, the answer was no.
“Having a child makes me appreciate the little things. When I wake up in the morning and don’t want to go to class, seeing my daughter motivates me. I know that I have something to work for, ” Davis proudly states. “My son is the best thing that has ever happened to me”, says Gatson.
“If he had not been born, I would have not chosen Grambling State University and I feel like I would have missed out on a lot if I had gone to a non-HBCU,” she continues.
Even though they are faced with immense odds, these young women view motherhood as a gift. Finding out you are pregnant can be a scary thing, but it does not mean that a person your life is over. “It can get hard sometimes but you must stay focused. Know exactly what you want to do and exactly how to execute it,” Thomas advises.
“Keep your head up and keep a good support system. Surround yourself with positive people,”Gatson says.