by Stephanie Brown
My name is Stephanie Brown and I recently graduated from Grand Valley State University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. However, I was not your average college student. I am a mother to a four-year-old daughter therefore I was considered a student parent. I am originally from the Metro-Detroit area and I got pregnant shortly after I graduated High School in 2008. I was not going to let this challenge stop me from furthering my education. I knew that I needed an education in order to land a decent job so I decided to attend community college for two years. As soon as I completed my general requirements I made the decision to further my education at a University. In the fall of 2010 I transferred to Grand Valley State University and moved to Grand Rapids with my daughter.
Grand Rapids is two and a half hours away from my hometown and family so I knew I was going to need help with my daughter in order to attend school full-time while working. Grand Valley was very helpful with directing me to their available resources for student parents. They gave me a list of affordable apartments around campus and also gave me information on daycare centers in the area. My daughter went to a quality and affordable daycare right on Grand Valley’s campus called the Children’s Enrichment Center during the day so I could work and attend classes full-time. The daycare also provided me with countless resources and created a community that made me feel very comfortable being a student parent. The director encouraged me to write an essay for a scholarship from the women’s center on campus. I was blessed to receive that scholarship and it helped me purchase my books and school supplies.
If it was not for Grand Valley’s resources I would not have been able to work, raise my daughter, and receive my Bachelor’s degree in 5 years! Because of my education I now hold a full-time position at St. Johns-DA Blodgett as a direct care counselor in a children’s shelter. I know that I would not have been able to receive my education and the job I have now without the resources available at Grand Valley State University. I am so very grateful for my education and also for the quality of care my child received in the process.On July 18, 2013 U.S. Congress members launched a new Economic Agenda for Women and Families, focused on issues including pay equity, paid leave, and child care. IWPR brought student parent Stephanie Brown to Washington D.C. to share her story on how child care and other supports helped her attain her college degree. For more information on student parents visit IWPR’s Student Parent Success Initiative.