Being a university student is challenging, even in the best of times. Juggling classes, studying and projects with a full- or part-time job is even tougher. Some students also have parenting duties in that mix. To them, every day may feel like Father’s Day, or Mother’s Day.
It’s these kinds of balancing acts that put student-parents in a unique position — and make campus resources like Parent Scholars United so crucial. The CSUN club was established to provide parents with access to community resources and help them feel more welcome on campus. Melissa Baghoumian ’21 (Economics) is the the organization’s president. She says the support group for parents was a great source of stress relief while she juggled homeschooling two children while going to school full time as an undergraduate.
“How can a parent even focus on studies if they have all these other things that they have to start looking into?” Baghoumian said.
Now a master’s student in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at CSUN, Baghoumian noted the many CSUN resources that helped make her time as a student-parent less overwhelming.
Parent Scholars United is a resource to help parent-students navigate campus life and foster advocacy. The club offers help finding child care, scholarships and other helpful tools within the growing support system on campus.
The group was founded by CSUN alumna and club treasurer Aymie Guerrero ’12 (Child and Adolescent Development), who extensively researched how to improve college campuses for student-parents, for her doctoral dissertation. The topic is close to her heart.
In 2008, Guerrero was a CSUN undergraduate. At the time, she was studying child development and was an active treasurer for her sorority. Then, during her third year in school, her life drastically shifted after she gave birth to her daughter.
“I struggled heavily with child care and worked full time, graveyard [shift] at a restaurant so I [could] pay my rent, attend school, attend an internship and spend more time with my daughter,” Guerrero said.
Even with these added responsibilities, Guerrero was able to complete her degree in child development. Now a mother of two, she is pursuing her doctorate in education and works to establish more programs for student-parents at CSUN.
Guerrero highlighted other resources on the CSUN campus that have been beneficial to her and other parents on campus:
Mamava Lactation Pods – Tucked into a private corner on the first floor of Bayramian Hall, the Mamava Lactation Pod is an intimate room for parents and their children. Parents who need clean and accessible spaces for pumping, breastfeeding and other child care activities are welcome to reserve a space in the lactation pods, through the Mamava App.
AS Children’s Center – The AS (Associated Students) Children’s Center is a great resource for student-parents in need of child care for children as young as 18 months, up to 5 years old. The Children’s Center is open Monday through Friday, from 7:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The center offers a high-quality and safe environment for your child and encourages healthy cognitive development.
Women’s Research and Resource Center – The WRRC has provided a guide for student-parents and expecting parents on how to navigate their higher education. It outlines the rights and access to free resources that parents can acquire, as well as discussing housing and nutrition information.
Child & Family Studies Center Lab School – Multicultural and inclusive school program for San Fernando Valley families and parents with young children. Located behind the AS Children’s Center, the Lab School has comprehensive programs to help promote a healthy cognitive function in youth. Children as young as two and no older than five years old.
Food Pantry – The CSUN Food Pantry is a nonprofit organization that provides immediate fresh produce and necessities to individuals in the San Fernando Valley and the surrounding community. For parents who may be struggling with finding affordable and healthy groceries, the Food Pantry is a free option that is open to students enrolled at any CSU campus and/or working in the San Fernando Valley area.