While being a full-time student comes with busy challenges and commitments, also serving as a full-time parent is not always an identity represented or supported enough on college campuses.
Olivia Martinez and Mikaela Dalton are hoping to spark change by increasing support for student-parents at CSU with the Student Parent Organization, created last fall.
Martinez, president of the organization, is a second-year student at CSU studying social work. She initially struggled to balance her roles as a mother of three and a full-time student. Noticing a need to increase support for the population of student parents, Martinez recruited human development and family studies major and first-generation student Dalton as vice president to help launch the Student Parent Organization.
“The focus really is on building and providing community and support,” said Dalton. “We felt there was a lack of representation, and we wanted to be advocates for this population.”
A Student Parent Organization event at the Museum of Discovery in Fort Collins. Photos by Mikaela Dalton
“A lot of us go through the same stories and struggles,” Martinez noted. “There’s something to be said for being able to go to another person and say, ‘My exam was hard, and my kid was sick.’ The entire point is to build a community.”
Starting the organization
The organization, which the two call a “grassroots effort,” holds meetings that provide safe spaces for CSU student-parents as a place where children can play while the parents interact.
“We want these meetings to include conversations between parents,” Martinez said. “What works for you? Do you have any ideas that would benefit your kids or you? It’s completely community-driven, and a collaborative thing we’re facilitating. Family is the focus, and we want to be a good resource for families.”
While Martinez and Dalton have led this effort to expand support for student-parents, they’ve had some help along the way. CSU’s Adult Learner and Veteran Services (ALVS) has several resources for student-parents, including the RamKidz Village in the Morgan Library.
“There’s a lot of support and community at the ALVS,” said Martinez. “It’s a wonderful resource for nontraditional students, and they’re constantly teaching and advocating for those populations.”
Meetings are being planned for the spring semester, and the Student Parent Organization hopes to emphasize openness and inclusivity, as well as its desire to continue growing.
“We’re trying to reach as many people as we can,” Martinez said. “There are no requirements; it’s all about community and comfort. We’re creating safe spaces, and want student-parents to see us as a resource and support for them.”
Martinez and Dalton passionately agreed that “individuals should not have to choose between education and their children,” and they hope to promote success and support for student-parents across campus.
The Student Parent Organization is open to both undergrad and graduate student-parents, and more information on its monthly sack lunches and family events can be found on RamLink. Its Facebook page feature posts about upcoming events throughout the semester, and the group can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.