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April 1, 2010

Graduate Student Advocates for CCNY Student Parents

Sarah Adams 

Sarah Adams, a New York Life graduate fellow at CCNY, developed a student parent group on campus.

Sarah Adams Co-Hosts Conference April 22 on Student Parent Issues

Getting a college degree is hard enough, but when academic obligations are juggled with the responsibility of raising a child, the challenge can be daunting.   As a graduate student and parent attending The City College of New York (CCNY), Sarah Adams lived that challenge.   While fortunate to have had a strong family support network, she saw many of her fellow student parents struggling to keep up.

Last fall, the New York Life Graduate Fellow established the CCNY Student Parent Group to provide a support base for all students who are parenting their own children while attending college.  It is estimated that as many as 1,000 students at CCNY are parents.

“I wanted to inform student parents about the resources available to them,” she explained.  “My vision for the Student Parent Group at CCNY is that campus would house a student parent office where student parents can go to get information and referrals if they have issues with housing and child support.”  

Hoping to further that agenda, Ms. Adams, who will complete her MA in history in May, and the CCNY Child Development Center will co-host a conference on student-parent issues.  It will take place 4 – 6 p.m. Thursday, April 22, in the CCNY Faculty Dining Room located in the North Academic Center. Sherill Mosee, author of “Professor May I Take My Baby to Class?” which chronicles the stories and experiences student parents, will be the keynote speaker.

The event is intended to spark a conversation among administrators, child development specialists and other professionals about what can be done to better assist student parents and maintain college access.  Topics will include the importance of the child development centers to student parents in CUNY, improving access to childcare services, information about childcare on campus and parenting issues and advocacy around issues of concern to student parents.

Sarah Adams’ interest in student parent issues was nurtured over four year of working in domestic violence shelters. While working with the women and girls in shelters, she would hear them complain about not being able to go to college because of lack of childcare, time and financial difficulties. From her work experience and observation, she realized that City College was in need of a student parent group.

After starting graduate school, she got involved with the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprises Leadership Program.  This program encourages CUNY students to develop projects that would benefit the community.    As a New York Life Graduate Fellow at the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies, she also received leadership training as well as financial and professional support to engage issues of public concern.

New York Life Graduate Fellowships for Emerging African-American Issues promote the study and understanding of African-American perspectives on policy issues.  The one-year graduate fellowships support students from populations underrepresented among policymakers, particularly but not limited to African-American students to participate in the Colin Powell Program in Leadership and Public Service, which includes mentoring, instruction and opportunities to develop the public and policy implications of their graduate research.

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