Mississippi student moms share their stories

Shurnita

Every year, we receive stories from all over the country of parenting students and their incredible successes on campus. These young moms and dads work hard to care for their children and achieve their degrees. We are proud to share with you these parenting student success stories provided by Students for Life student group leaders in Mississippi.

Shurnita: “My life has a purpose.”

This school year, Shurnita, a junior in Wildlife at Mississippi State University became unexpectedly pregnant. Her on-campus counselor let her know that there is a group on campus that has a program called the Pregnant on Campus Initiative. She contacted MSU Students for Life for help continuing her education while pregnant. Although being pregnant and taking challenging classes proved to be an intense balance, Shurnita had a community of students at her school willing to find baby items, job listings, and classes for new moms. As she prepared for her baby boy in the spring semester, she had a team of friends making sure that she had everything that she needed to succeed as a mother and a student. Not only did she survive pregnancy on campus– she thrived. Shurnita achieved the best grades that she has had in her entire college career.

Shurnita and Adrean

She attributes her academic success to two things: “I have to succeed in order for my son to have everything he needs. Being pregnant helped me realize that my life has a purpose and someone needs me and will always love me. That helps me continue to strive for success.”

Shurnita also shared: “Students for Life’s Pregnant on Campus helped me realize that I’m not alone and that someone will always be there if I need help. They helped me prepare for my son.”

Adrean was born this May to a loving mother and a supportive Students for Life family. Shurnita will return to school as a senior in the fall.

 

Jalissa: “I’m proud of my decision.”

Jalissa

Jalissa, a senior at Mississippi State University studying Psychology, found herself in a difficult spot. She was a mom to a brand new baby girl and was a full time student. Her on-campus advisor referred her to Students for Life’s Pregnant on Campus Initiative. She soon realized that she had a group of peers more than willing to help her find resources, job listings, babysitting, daycare information, and emotional support. Jalissa described the support she has received: “[Pregnant on Campus] has provided resources for me that I absolutely didn’t know existed. The group also goes a little further than expected to help and that is amazing!”

Jalissa and Baby

Hannah Loper (the President of the Students for Life group at Jalissa’s school) described working together with student mothers: “I’ve loved working with our student moms! It’s opened my eyes to struggles that I never would have thought about when I had not met them. These moms have given us a chance to walk the walk and show that we want to see them and their babies do life well. That experience means the world to me!”

Jalissa is expected to graduate this December and to pursue a career in counseling. Her daughter, Jordyn, continues to bless her. Jalissa wants to share with the world, “I’m proud of my decision to stay in school while being a mom!”

“I’m a mom, and I stay up all night and still go to class and graduate in December!”

Amber: “It’s empowering.”

Amber, a sophomore in Anthropology at Mississippi State University, became unexpectedly pregnant during the school year. Her church referred her to her campus’ Students for Life Pregnant on Campus Initiative for the aid that she needed. Since coming to SFL’s events, she has experienced an outpouring of support from the community of peers and individuals who want to see her succeed as a mom and as a student.

Vice President of the group, Maggie Thomas, describes her own involvement this way: “Getting the opportunity to work with student parents made me realize how strong these parents are. They work so hard to make sure that they and their children have the best future possible. It’s inspiring to see them balance so many roles and be successful. They are not only role models for their children, but for me and those that get to work with them.”

Amber and Riley

Amber described the empowerment she felt since being supported by the group. “Before, I walked around campus so embarrassed because I’m not married and I’m young. I didn’t know how many women on campus were in my position, and it’s empowering to have a group of women beside you through it. It’s like a little community. It’s great, and everyone is so helpful. If I needed something for my son, I could just ask!” Amber attended her campus baby shower hosted by MSU Students for Life and received several items from members of the community that SFL was happy to deliver to her. By the time her son was born, she had everything ready for him!

Amber also has a passion for other young pregnant and parenting students, and she is always eager to help. Her son Riley was born in May, and she shared that she loves “talking to him about everything!” She hopes to pursue a career in Biblical Archaeology after graduation. She shared, “We are determined to graduate so our children will have the best lives possible!”

 

Aysia: Determined to succeed

Aysia and group

Aysia, a senior in Biomedical Engineering at Mississippi State University, discovered that she was pregnant before returning to school in the fall. She remained determined to carry her baby and return to school. She saw the Students for Life table at her school’s Club Fair on the first week of school. It was her first week as a pregnant student right when she saw the sign-up sheet. Aysia attended the Interest Meeting and decided to become a member as a pregnant, pro-life student.Throughout her pregnancy, her school’s Students for Life came together to throw her a baby shower, refer parent classes, babysit, and build lasting relationships. Aysia attended almost every Students for Life event during her pregnancy, worked night shifts on campus, and walked from her apartment to class every day.Fearlessly, she even joined her school’s archery team.According to former President of MSU SFL, “She never complained. She only insisted on persisting.”  

Aysia

Unexpectedly, Aysia needed to give birth a month early right in the midst of finals week. Rushing to her unplanned doctor and hospital, she prepared herself for a premature birth. Her boyfriend, Roderick, immediately came to be with her through delivery. Friends she made at Students for Life were able to visit the hospital to give her things her and her baby needed.

Her baby girl, Evalyn, is a gift to the whole MSU Students for Life team. Mama, baby, and dad are often at Students for Life events on campus and have a made a habit of always giving as much as they receive. Aysia plans to be an optometrist after graduation.

“I’m continuing my education and caring for a four-month-old.”

 

 

Thank you to student leader Anja Scheib for collecting these powerful stories! All images and quotes were provided at the consent of the named parenting students. If you have a story to share, contact Beth Rahal at brahal@studentsforlife.org

GMU SFL launches Operation Graduation for Mothers

George Mason University Students for Life opened their new campaign, Operation Graduation for Mothers, with the sight of green graduation hats hanging in trees and blowing in the wind. The empty hats represented the population of pregnant and parenting students who have leave their education in order to parent their child.GMU Operation- 1

“Our ultimate goal is to cross the pro-life and pro-choice boundaries,” Lori Kostka, the operation’s director stated. “We want to unite the GMU community to affect long term changes so that women have equal accessibility to education at Mason. It is something everyone pro-woman can agree on.”

During the display the group presented a letter to the of the university president’s office. Johanna Young, a recent graduate and mother of three, was able to join. Her youngest daughter, Sheridan, even tagged along strapped to her back. “I am concerned about students who do not have supportive family nearby to turn to,” she says. Rev. Pat Mahoney also joined to advise and took part in this project so that other campuses can do the same.

Some of the group’s primary goals are to promote better advertising of current resources, install diaper decks, create a volunteer babysitting group for moms during classes, and maternal housing. On February 18th GMU Students for Life will be hosting a Feminists for Life Pregnancy Resource Forum to talk with school departments about their ideas and reachable solutions.


This post was contributed by  GMU Students for Life at the request of the Pregnant on Campus Coordinator, Beth Rahal. If your student group has a story to share, contact Beth at brahal@studentsforlife.org 

Summer Break: Time for a Vacation from Outreach?

Summer is here! Finally, you can enjoy 3 months of glorious sunshine, zero homework assignments, and carefree days! Just. In. Time. Time to take a break from pro-life activism, volunteering at your local PRC, planning the group events

Now, I’m not saying that you must abandon all your summertime joy and relaxation! However, keep in mind that the abortion industry does not take a summer vacation. All year round, women find themselves in unplanned pregnancy situations. This isn’t neatly packaged between August and May! Women need your love and support during the summer too. Although we are certainly tempted to sit back and work on our tans (or soothe our burns), we need to continue our efforts to provide support and resources to families in our local communities.

What can you do to stay active over the summer?

  1. Volunteer at a local pregnancy resource center.
  2. Organize a community baby shower.
  3. Establish a consistent sidewalk presence at the local abortion clinic.
  4. Create a unique resource guide for pregnant and parenting students at your school.
  5. Plan and strategize for your pro-life group’s Fall semester

These are just a few ideas for what you can do to stay involved over the summer. Check out more ideas on our Simple and Advanced Activities pages. You can also check out other pro-life events and activities on College.studentsforlife.org. Best of luck on your summer outreach!

This post was contributed by Beth O’Malley, Pregnant on Campus Coordinator. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Beth at bomalley@studentsforlife.org.

 

High school bans student photo: Is this discrimination?

Caitlin Tiller- Banned40% of teen moms do not complete their high school education, and by age 30, less than 2% of these mothers will achieve a college degree.

Graduating high school is an incredible accomplishment for young teen moms. It represents sacrifice, commitment, and courage in the face of criticism and daunting statistics. While many will acknowledge the difficulty of this achievement,  there remains disagreement on how this issue is to be presented to the students and to the community. Should schools allow for the baby to be upheld as an inspiration for this young woman’s successes? Or is it better to applaud her accomplishments– but leave the baby out of the picture?

Meet Caitlin Tiller, a soon-to be graduate of Wheatmore High School (NC) and the proud mother of 1-year-old Leelin. This May, school faculty and administration notified Caitlin that her graduation photo would not be accepted in the school yearbook. While Caitlin claims that the situation “feels like discrimination,” the school has upheld their decision despite local and national pressure.

Superintendant Donald Andrews stated:

  • “The practice at Wheatmore High School regarding yearbook pictures for seniors has been to include only graduating students in the senior section, and to permit family members and friends to be featured with our seniors in the ad section of the yearbook,” he said. “We offered this option to Ms. Tiller. We regret that this practice was not made clearer to her earlier in the yearbook development process and we will do a better job going forward with explaining our yearbook practices.”

With the support of her family and her child’s father, Caitlin has been able to care for both her child and herself. As she has stated, “having a baby is not easy,” and yet she continued with her education knowing that her baby needed her. After finding out that she was pregnant, Caitlin doubled her course work in order to graduate early. In December, Caitlin was named an honor roll student, and in January, she has began taking courses at Archdale Center of Randolph Community College. On top off all of this, she works part-time!

Despite the challenges of being a teen mom, Caitlin has embraced both her education and her motherhood, and she has certainly made an impressive effort to do the best for herself and her child. Caitlin will be graduating on June 7th and continuing her pursuit of an Associates degree in medical assistance.

 

What do you think? Is this discrimination? Post comments below!

 

Additional Media

  • Read national and local news about Caitlin Tiller’s story here and here.
  • Pregnant and parenting students are granted certain rights under Title IX. If you believe that you are being discriminated against as a pregnant or parenting student, contact National Women’s Law Center at info@nwlc.org.