A new registered student organization is seeking to change the struggle some student parents face on campus.
Katelyn Gerardi, a Saint Charles senior and president of the new Parents Attending Central RSO, said the group’s goal is to help student parents however they can to finish their degrees.
“We’ve been spreading the word that it’s possible to parent and stay in school and not drop out,” Gerardi said.
Gerardi said the idea for an RSO for student parents came about last year after Gerardi was featured in a CM Life story last year about balancing her schoolwork and raising her son Brayden, now 2 ½ years old.
“Three different individuals contacted me asking ‘How do you manage it?’” Gerardi said. “That’s when it came up that maybe there should be a RSO for parents. It was concerning that there wasn’t already one with a university this large.”
One of those individuals was Walled Lake junior Courtney Lindsay, now Parents Attending Central’s vice president.
“I was about 15 weeks pregnant and was sitting at my apartment when I glanced down at the paper that one of my roommates brought home,” Lindsay said. “Katelyn’s story and picture of her with her son, Brayden, was on the front cover. Thanks to Facebook, I was able to get in touch with her.”
Lindsay said the communication she had with Gerardi was very helpful because she had someone to share her experiences with as she started the process of parenting her son Liam, now 6 months old.
“I guess this is all a huge reason as to why I wanted to be a part of this RSO and help start it,” Lindsay said. “Katelyn was such a big help to me. Friends don’t really get everything that you go through when you are pregnant and have a baby, unless they are a parent themselves and have gone through it.”
Having a baby brings a lot of joy and happiness to Lindsay, she said, but it is also a lot of hard work.
“There are lots of late nights staying up to do homework after the baby goes to sleep because he just wanted to be held, preventing you from doing homework earlier in the day,” Lindsay said.
She looks forward to showing similar support for other students through Parents Attending Central.
“You far too often hear of young girls getting pregnant and dropping out of school because they don’t think they can handle it,” Lindsay said. “But that’s not the case. Sometimes all that it takes is a friend and some motivation from seeing another mom do it that helps you get through.”
One of the goals Gerardi would like to look at with Parents Attending Central is to pursue volunteer-based daycare options for when parents are in school in addition to the HeadStart program on campus.
“Even if there are only five people to help with daycare, we want to do anything to help parents graduate,” Gerardi said.