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Washington State University
College of Education

Student Mothers: A Balancing Act

Student Mothers: A Balancing Act

By: Hannah Schneider – College of Education

Three student mothers from the College of Education shared their experiences raising a child while going to school. Between balancing classes, relationships, and raising a child, student mothers are unstoppable.

Samantha Brosnan 

Samantha Brosnan was accepted into five different colleges with various scholarships.  

However, she decided not to attend.  

 As a first-generation college student, Brosnan had a hard time navigating the college process. She was also concerned about leaving her family. 

“I was scared to leave my family and I was scared to take that step and I didn’t know what I wanted to do anyway, so I didn’t end up going,” said Brosnan.  

Once her daughter, Addison, was born, things drastically changed. A few months later Brosnan decided to go back to school.  

“It wasn’t until I had my daughter that I realized I wanted to be a teacher – it was like a lightbulb went off in my head,” she said.  

Brosnan started taking as many online courses as she could. However, there came a time when she had to make the commute to Vancouver from her home in Longview, WA.  

“When I’m at school, I’m a student, but when I’m at home, I’m a mom,” she said. 

Brosnan knows that having her daughter watch her pursue her dreams will have a positive impact on her, in fact, that’s one of the main reasons she decided to go back to school.  

“That’s why I went back and that’s why I won’t quit,” she said.  “I realized I wanted to be a better role model for her and show her that, even though it might be hard, you have to fight for your dreams and make it work.” 

Jessica Santana 

Jessica Santana lives the typical life of a college student.  

However, there’s just one slight difference – She has a 3-year-old son. 

Santana had to make some life adjustments during her senior year of high school when she learned she was pregnant with her son, Kyden. 

“I try to find a balance between being a student and giving him time and attention,” she said. “He gets sad when he has to go and play in his room alone.” 

On the typical weekday, she wakes up first to get ready for her day. Then gets Kyden ready and drops him off at daycare before heading to campus. There are days where she stays on campus from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. before leaving to pick him up.  

If she needs to come back for meetings, she will bring him with her.  

“I think being in the elementary education program helps because everyone loves kids and they understand if I haven’t been able to complete an assignment, she said.  

Savannah Kerr 

Savannah Kerr hasn’t let anything stop her from pursuing her degree. On top of being a student, she is also a wife and a mother. 

Kerr began college soon after her 2-year-old daughter, Hallie, was born. Dedicated to balancing her education and time with her family, she commutes from her hometown of St. John, Washington to Pullman for her classes.  

“I feel like there isn’t enough time in the day,” she said. “On weekends I try to not do homework in the day and do it at night.” 

Kerr began her secondary education at an older age. Many of her younger peers support her and enjoy seeing photos of Hallie. 

“I feel like I’m older than everyone; like I’m the old person and the non-traditional student,” she said. But everyone in my block is so supportive. 

Help Along the Way  

Santana, finds most of her support back home in Moses Lake, Washington. She travels home every weekend to see her family and for Kyden to see his dad.  

Having this help allows Santana to focus on her success.  

“I think finding a good support system and someone you can vent to is important,” Santana said. “They can motivate you even more.” 

Kerr feels support from her mom, professors, and especially her husband.  

“How bad do you want it? Because you can definitely do it,” she said. “Someone once told me that and it’s true. You have to figure it out. There are a lot of resources.” 

Brosnan credits her fiancé as her biggest supporter. She also gets help from her parents and her fiancés’ parents, who often watch Addison when Brosnan needs to attend classes in Vancouver.  

“It has worked out so well because Addison has a great relationship with all of her family,” she said. “The only way I could have done any of this is with all their help watching her.” 

University Resources 

WSU has established programs for helping hardworking student-parents like Jessica, Savannah, and Samantha. 

WSU Vancouver and WSU Pullman both have a Child Development Program (CDP). Located in the McClaskey Building on the Vancouver Campus and in the Children’s Center on the Pullman Campus, all day private preschool for children three to five years old is offered as part of the Department of Human Development.   

One of the most important CDP goals is to help WSU Vancouver parents remain in school, stay on schedule for degree completion, and make progress toward financial self-sufficiency,” said Kimbree Brown, the Early Learning Program Manager on the Vancouver campus 

WSU Pullman also has Rosario’s Place, located in Wilson-Short Hall room 8HA. Rosario’s Place serves to assist student-parents by offering a range of resources including food assistance, diapering products, and baby clothing. The space is supported by donations from the community and is free to all WSU student parents. 

It really takes a village, but it is so cool to see how everybody steps up and supports each other,” said Amy Sharp, the Director for the Women’s Center on the Pullman campus. You know if there is a mom out there who is wondering how she is going to do this all, we try to be the ones to help.” 

Jessica Santana and her son
Samantha Brosnan and her daughter
Savannah Kerr and her family