Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Latest issue

Student parents share what raising a kid while in college is like

Maya Zavala, OMN Photographer
Mylizah Johnson, an Oregon State University student and a mother, is occupied with both focusing on her studies and spending quality time with her daughter on Dec. 8., 2023.

In college, there are many taboo topics that people will avoid out of fear of the unknown, one of which is having kids while in college. 

Many students are unsure how it will affect them, not only as a new parent but as a college student as well. Although the number isn’t quite known here at Oregon State University, there have been many students who have fit this script and have continued to thrive doing so. 

According to Kristi King, assistant director for the Family Resource Center, over the years OSU has become one of the foremost participants in childcare for colleges and universities across the country. The university also continues to make strides in how childcare in universities and higher education schools is carried out. 

“When I compare what OSU has for student-parents to many other Universities and colleges, we are very far ahead of the curve,” King said. “Lots of people that are serving student parents on their campus look to OSU as, ‘what is OSU doing?’, and are quite amazed at the amount of services and support that we have.”

Student-parents and what they go through here at OSU have not only been recognized but have also played a part in a larger plan for the state of Oregon. 

Anna Gortva, a student parent at OSU, sends her son to Beaver Beginnings, a KinderCare-operated childcare center on campus. Gortva said she feels OSU has more childcare options than many other universities. 

“That’s one of the reasons I picked OSU, because there are multiple childcare facilities on campus,” Gortva said. “Honestly, I’m really lucky that he got in (to Beaver Beginnings), I think typically there’s a two-year wait for his age group.” 

Melissa Livingston, another student parent at OSU, also sends her two kids to Beaver Beginnings full-time while she was at school.

“As long as they are not sick, then I have adequate childcare so that I can attend class and complete homework, studying, and then all the work I have as a graduate teaching and research assistant,” Livingston said. “We feel really lucky.”

OSU has several different centers accommodating children ages zero to elementary school that provide care and programming for parents who need time for academics. These include Beaver Beginnings, Azalea, Our Little Village and Kid Spirit.

Even with what OSU offers through the Family Resource Center, not all student parents are afforded the same childcare and job opportunities.

“It’s kind of difficult because I stay in Eugene, now when I first was in school, I was able to get scholarships and stuff, only for summer camp,” said Carence Beard III, a student parent at OSU. “But once summer camp was over, now my five-year-old daughter, she is in pre-kindergarten, she goes to school and that’s like $1200 a month.”

Maintaining a job while taking care of their kids is another struggle faced by student parents. 

“This term for example, I was taking 16 credits and in order to be able to afford the 16 credits, I needed to have extra income,” Gortva said. “But after I started the term, I realized there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to fit in any sort of job opportunity, I could have maybe fit in eight hours a week but then that would be taking time away from my son.”

This struggle has been recognized as a barrier for many parent-students by the university and with that, has been an issue OSU working to assist with.

“What we know is that on a daily basis, there are students that are still struggling and are thinking about ‘this isn’t the place for me’, ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I can’t get over this hurdle to get to the next thing’,” King said. “So while what we have to offer is amazing and it really is a lot compared to what students are going to get at other colleges and universities, we know that we continue to have resources that we need to work on.”

King said the university’s top two programs they need to work on are child care and early care education and housing to make it more accessible and more affordable for students.

At the end of the day, no one can really say it will be easy, but they can say that the award is still there and that with that alone, the journey is worth it.

“The short term reward is that my kids talk about me being at school and work, and when we go to campus we say, ‘okay you are going to school and mom is going to school isn’t it fun to learn things? Mom loves to learn things’, so I get to demonstrate that which I think is really powerful,” Kingston said. “(Long term) they will get to see me finish the process and graduate, and I’m hoping that that will stick with them.”

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