Books, Babies and Everything in Between

Most SMC students would agree that they are well taken care of. Resources are plentiful and convenient for most students. However, there is a lack of acknowledgment and resources for student parents. Rocio Lebron, a student and a mother of two, decided to form a club for student parents.

Every Friday, Mothers with Open Books comes together from 11:15 to 12:45 a.m. in the HSS building in room 106. The decision to start the Mothers with Open Books club came from Lebron's firsthand experience of knowing what it's like to be a student and having to raise young children simultaneously.

Lebron is a part of the SMC Scholars program
and is transferring for the fall 2009
semester. "I don't want to leave SMC
without leaving something behind that
addresses student parents," says Lebron.

Realizing that childcare is a dilemma
that affects students and faculty, she
started recruiting members for the club.
Student parents have to balance work,
school and all that goes with being a
good parent. The lifestyle of a student parent can be overwhelming and often raises the question of what it means to be a good parent.

During their meetings, the women vent in an open environment about anything that may have happened during the week. The discussions can get as personal as talking about their partners or ex-partners to being a single mother. The mothers talk about how difficult it is trying to be the student you want to become because of the lack of childcare on campus. The women represent a unique population of students with specific needs and they are trying to push SMC to provide services for student parents.

As progressive as SMC is, there are other community colleges such as West Los Angeles College that do provide a whole facility for student parents. The opposing arguments that the women have heard is that SMC doesn't have the space and will have to deal with liability. But regardless of the lack of services provided the women have come up with
their own solutions in the meantime.

The women babysit each other's children to
help with time management. Kerri Ryer, a club member, was given a baby shower by the women one meeting before she would give birth to a healthy baby boy on Nov. 24.
Being a parent is an around-the-clock
job and sometimes being a student
while also being a parent forces one to
compromise. For instance, if the child
of a student gets a fever on the day of
a test or the day an assignment is due,
it's difficult to decide whether a fever
or a test is more important.

Though there are other programs on campus like CARE that address the issues of being a student parent, to receive help from CARE, you have to be on welfare. Not all student parents want to be on welfare in order to
receive childcare. Mothers with Open Books is a welcoming environment that gives student mothers hope and motivation.

The club lets them know that there are other women who share the same dreams, fears and struggles and that the issues can be discussed and defeated. The message for student parents is that you can go to school and be a good parent for your children and still be a very successful student.