Parkland single mothers balance parenthood and education

Derian Silva

Staff Writer

Parkland mothers balance being a parent and student through determination and help from family and friends.

Being a mother is a full-time job and sometimes includes emergencies that require one to be places in a moment’s notice. There is not too much flexibility in that.

Being a full-time student is no easy situation either; there are rigorous deadlines that must be met and sacrifices that must be made to succeed as a student.

Both of these alone can be difficult, and parents who are also students face incredibly tight schedules, often sacrificing sleep and free time just to accomplish their goals. Mother’s usually undergo this challenge for their children, who they wish to give a life that they themselves may not have had before.

“I chose to go to school because I wanted to accomplish and earn a degree that will me get a job I want to do and earn a decent income for my family and myself,” says Regina Barajas, a current student, who is also a parent and a former member of the army.

Often times there is some external help from family members, however this may not relieve all daily struggles.

“I was able to overcome [my struggles] with a lot of help from great family and friends within the community,” says Crystal Bates, another local mom. “My success was so important to me that they could see it and did not want to see me fall through the cracks.”

Crystal Bates is also a current pledge of Alpha Omega Phi and trying to assist other people in need by creating a book collection, where students in need can borrow books and once they have phased out of use for the classes they can be donated to a Books to Prisoners program where they can “find a second life.”

Bates has struggled through finan-cial hardships before and understood that lightening the financial load for others in anyway is a good thing. She saw the need for education in prisons as well and that she could help both students and prisoners though her program.

Full schedules like Bates’ can make flexibility nearly impossible for student mothers.

“I am unable to do some of the [extra duties in my internship] without a two-week notice,” says Dani Paul-Schmidt, who is currently a student mother finishing up her last semester at Parkland.

Restraints like this make consistency and affordability in childcare important to student mothers.

Paul-Schmidt says that currently Parkland offers a child development center, but at $920 a month she is unable to afford it. She would like to see some kind of help financially for this.

Barajas would also like to see some alleviation from the cost of the daycare service associated with Parkland.

“Sometimes pricing doesn’t allow for some to get in and state funding is slim to none right now,” she says. “So, maybe pricing and evening hours would be nice while some parents go to evening classes.”

This is particularly important, because sometimes between work and everything going on it is difficult to get the perfect schedule and sometimes night classes are all a parent can do.

Bates says she would like to see high-achieving students and financially-burdened students have the ability to lock in their tuition rate for two years.

“This will help dramatically with their financial planning,” says Bates. “Each semester tuition seems to change and only increase.”