Supporting the Academic Excellence of Student Caregivers
Student caregivers are some of the most focused and resourceful students on campus, as demonstrated by their ability to balance school, work, and parental responsibilities. Did you know that 26% of all college students nationwide are raising children?
Student Caregiver Resources
Student Caregiver Excellence Committee
The Student Caregiver Excellence Committee is led by CEW+ in collaboration with partners across campus. We are working to reduce or eliminate obstacles for student parents and caregivers demonstrating excellence. If you’re interested in becoming an ally, click here.
Barbara Anderson, Ronald Freedman Collegiate Professor, Sociology and Population Studies
Paul Artale, Program Manager-Graduate Student Engagement, Rackham
Dilip Das, Assistant Vice Provost, ODEI
Beth Dutridge-Corp, LSA Dean’s Office
Tu’Rone Elliott, Medical School, Academic Counselor, Medical School
Kelley Emerson, Assistant Director, Science Learning Center
Kerrigan Fitzpatrick, Alumni, LSA
Reginald Hammond, Program Manager, Medical School
Paula Hathaway, Manager of Graduate Education, LSA
Tom Lehker, Ombuds, Student Life
Stephanie Leiser, Lecturer, Ford School of Public Publicy
Tiffany Marra, Director, CEW+
Alice Mishkin, Graduate Student, LSA
Lavashia Mundy, Student Program Coordinator, CEW+
Jeanne Murabito, Director, Office of Student Affairs, Michigan Engineering
Doreen Murasky, Interim Associate Director, CEW+
Analidis Ochoa, Graduate Student, SSW
Lyss Shumaker, Alumni, LSA
Jeff Spencer, Graduate Student, Chemistry and Education
Amy Szczepanski, Work-Life Resource Center, Human Resources
John Tropman, Henry J. Meyer Collegiate Professor Emeritus, SSW
Ida Faye Webster, Director of Program Review, Rackham
Student Caregiver Faculty & Staff Allies:
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CEW+ Guide: "Helping Students with Children Graduate: Taking Your College Services to the Next Level"
Under the Michigan Partners Project grant, CEW+, lead by former CEW+ staff member Beth Sullivan, created the guide “Helping Students with Children Graduate: Taking Your College Services to the Next Level“ to help Michigan colleges build and improve their support programs for student parents. The report outlines unique challenges faced by these students and links readers to model programs in the areas of academic & social support, child care, financial support, housing, and health care. It also identifies and links to sources of state, federal, and non-profit assistance.
Are you an undergraduate or graduate student with caregiver responsibilities (e.g. student parents or those who provide eldercare) looking for additional academic support? If so, consider participating in the Academic Coaching Pilot Program that offers one-on-one academic coaching and peer-led community activities. For more information, contact Gloryvee Fonseca-Bolorin at email@example.com.
In this issue, we highlight our current work to advocate for student caregivers and share the voices of U-M student caregivers past and present. You will read about students excelling at Michigan while raising children or caring for their aging parents. You meet the members of our Student Parent Excellence Committee (page 10) and learn how we can all work to ensure an inclusive definition of caregiving (page 18). We are proud to work side by side with administrators, staff members and faculty who want to lift up these student stories to create greater change and help U-M live into our promise of the “uncommon education” for all.
Tiffany Marra, director of Center for the Education of Women+, said she empathizes with the extra struggles that student parents face this fall. “A lot of the accommodations that were provided while campus was closed are starting to be retracted,” Marra said. “It is complicated for students and staff with children younger than age 12. There are shortages at childcare centers because of lack of workers because of low pay. Title IX protects pregnant students and they can have accommodations. The same rights don’t extend to student parents, unfortunately. Some schools recognize student parents under Title IX (but) we haven’t gotten there at U-M.”
To address the issue of work-life balance with children during the pandemic, Micol said she would urge the departments and faculty to reach out to their non-traditional students with children and ask how they can help. “I think for non-traditional students, it’s a real struggle in academia to feel like you belong,” Micol said. “And I feel like the pandemic has made it so we’re kind of sitting silently in our anguish, and it’s like proof they don’t want us here, and that’s really hard. But just asking, even if there’s nothing that they can do, feels like, ‘I want you here and I want to figure out how I can help you.’”
“Having a more balanced perspective about the diversity of students in the classroom can lead to greater inclusion, especially when those insights lead to changes in pedagogy that validate unique life experiences. Students will often hide their identity as parents for fear of being perceived as less committed to their coursework by the instructor or peers. In reality, student parents are some of the most focused and resourceful students on campus, as demonstrated by their ability to balance school, work, and parental responsibilities. In many cases, student parents also commute to campus so they can live near affordable childcare.”
“Nationally, student parents make up a significant population of college students, representing more than 1 in every 5 undergraduates. About 70 percent of those student parents are mothers. Of the 3.8 million undergraduate student parents in the country, approximately 17 percent attend public, 4-year universities like the University of Michigan.”
“Student parents comprise a largely invisible population at the University of Michigan, despite hundreds of us being enrolled in undergraduate, professional and graduate programs. When the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the closure of childcare centers and K-12 schools, we were left to our own devices to figure out how to complete coursework, teach remotely, conduct research and make progress on our dissertations while simultaneously caring for and educating our own children. With no access to childcare, our academic progress has taken a serious hit. Here are our stories.”