Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

June 2010

Single Moms Pursue Academic Goals


Pictured is ECU graduate student, Vonda Barrett and her 12-year-old son, Robi-Von.

Single moms got a start on achieving their academic dreams recently at the MOMS2COLLEGE Fair held at AHEC.

"This is getting me on the right track of where I need to be," Jennifer Benner, mother of two from Gene Autry said.

"I'm trying to go back to school for either nursing or teaching. I'm moving up in the world," Benner said.

The event began with an idea and a grant from the Single Mothers Academic Resource Team.

"We felt like there is a great need for single parents in the state, especially single moms," said Robin Plumb with Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

For the first two years of the grant, Plumb organized focus groups around the state to find out the concerns and issues of single moms in college. Child care and transportation topped the list.

"My children are 5 and almost 2 years old. They still need a lot of attention. I need the flexibility to go to school and be a full-time mother," Teri Medellin said.

A single mother, Medellin moved to Ardmore from Lubbock, Texas, with her work in the ministry. Now, she wants to study human services and counseling.

"Being a single parent, there are difficulties not many people face, so this is a great opportunity to pursue some education and career goals with assistance," Medellin said.

Plumb began to organize fairs across the state, featuring information on financial aid opportunities juggling family, work and school.

"I hope they get a connection to someone. It's been shown that when students make a connection to just one person on their campus, they will stay in school," Plumb said.

Single moms also got to meet other single moms, including ones who have now finished their degrees. Plumb herself attended AHEC, earning everything from her associate to her Ph.D. degree.

"I was a single mom, and if it hadn't been for this place, I wouldn't have finished," Plumb said. "It's a passion for me to help other women."

Colleges connected to AHEC offered information on courses and financial aid.

"The thing that is important, to me, is that at Ardmore Higher Education Center, a woman can be a mother and work and take classes at any of these institutions," said Michaelle Gray, Murray State College vice president of student affairs.

Gray went to AHEC for her associate through master's degrees.

"I went to school and worked and raised a family," Gray said. "I want them to know the program offerings and delivery options, like ITV versus in-class options, that make it so much easier for working moms, single parents and non-traditional students to complete their degree."

Other colleges such as the University of Phoenix offered information about online-based programs.

"Being distance-based learning center, we offer opportunities for students in non-traditional-based settings.

We have more offerings of what adults in working environments need in the format they need it," said Lany Cox, corporate education liaison.

Colleges weren't the only ones at the fair. MAMA Knows (Mothers Against Mommies Alone) is a support group for single parents.

"Single moms are what we are based on. We're the only group around that specifically supports single parents," founder Kayla Walker said.

Other organizations at the fair included Little Dixie Self-Help Housing, the Community Children's Shelter, Community Action Partnership, Cameron University, the Chickasaw Nation, the Grace Center and the Choctaw Career Development Program.

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