Family Friendly MC
Rocelyn Alvarado returned to Montgomery College after becoming a mom at age 20. Her first attempt at MC, at 17, was unsuccessful; she failed every class and lost the financial aid that made it possible for her to attend. “I gave up,” she says.
Somehow, while navigating the challenges of new motherhood—swaddling, feeding, and changing a baby—she developed a new appreciation for higher education. “My mentality changed,” Alvarado says. “I wanted a better life—for both of us.”
Alvarado took a babysitting job to pay for one class at MC—an English class and student fees costing $900. After earning an A in the class, she was eligible to apply for financial aid again. She has been on the dean’s list every semester since. Her goal is to become a registered nurse, working in a hospital pediatric or maternity unit.
Alvarado is among a significant contingent of students—15% to 20%— who are parenting young children while attending Montgomery College. These numbers align with the national average. At MC, the percentage translates to approximately 5,000 to 6,000 students annually.
“Student parents have proven to be extremely resilient,” says Ja’Bette Lozupone, Montgomery College director of student affairs. “On average, they earn higher GPAs than students who are not parenting. But we need to make sure they are able to complete what they start—and that involves providing more holistic support for them as parents.”
Last fall, a donor who wishes to remain anonymous established a fund through the Montgomery College Foundation to help student parents. “This donor’s gift established the Parent Student Support Fund, which provides assistance to single parents of children under 17 who are attending MC full or part time,” says Francene Walker, development and alumni relations specialist. “Students must be pursuing degrees and/or non-degree certificates that lead to living wage jobs.”
By design, recipients may use funds for tuition or anything else they need to stay
on track with education (e.g., housing, child care, food, transportation). “Their
lives are complicated,” says the donor. “If these student parents can get the support
they need to get through their program... it opens the door to getting
a better job, so they can make a livable wage. This helps the county. It helps everybody.”
For her part, Alvarado used funds last semester for tuition, transportation, and child care on campus. She makes time to give back to the MC community: she is president of the newly formed student club, Student Parent Alliance, and a member of the Ascend Parent Initiative Taskforce at Montgomery College, and she volunteers with College events, such as Alternative Spring Break and PeaceJam Mentoring for high school students. Rather than hold her back, her status as a parent motivates her to do well, give back, and keep moving forward.
“I want my daughter to know she can do whatever she wants in life. Because I did,” Alvarado says. “I want to prove people wrong—I want my daughter to see that I didn’t give up.”
For more information on the Parent Student Support fund, please contact Francene.Walker@montgomerycollege.edu