Mothers look to peers for support

” Mothers Achieving More Academically, also known as MAMA is a new organization on campus this semester. The purpose of MAMA is to bring together student mothers to discuss childcare, attend family nights, learn of different financial resources and to vent.”

Mothers Achieving More Academically, also known as MAMA is a new organization on campus this semester. The purpose of MAMA is to bring together student mothers to discuss childcare, attend family nights, learn of different financial resources and to vent. The idea for this organization came about when Pat Millhoff, director of women’s studies, and Lee Gill, associate vice president Incl. & Equity, were having a discussion about underserved populations on campus. We wanted to make the University of Akron accessible to all students, and we realized that young moms’ and moms’ in general needs were not being served, Millhoff said.

The first two meetings were held in the Student Union room 314 on Tuesday, Sept. 1, and Wednesday, Sept. 2, from 12:00-2:00 p.m. Millhoff said there were about 16 mothers at the meetings. The organization plans to have monthly meetings as well as a fun activity.

The group members have already decided to hold a movie night for themselves and their children on Saturday, Oct. 3, in Leigh Hall at 4:00 p.m. We tried to plan it at night but since most of our kids don’t stay up past 8:00, we decided to have it on the weekend, said Kelsey Kapper, who attended the meeting. She said two of the movies they plan to watch are Cars and Wall-E.

The group is also planning to start a blog so they can communicate with one another while at home. They also plan to have a breast-feeding program to talk about whether mothers should or shouldn’t breast-feed and whether a lactation room should be available on campus.

The mothers at the meeting had many interesting things to say about balancing school time with being a mother. Brandie Larkins stated, I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a child at a young age. I kind of like it because when I am 40 I’ll be able to relax and enjoy myself. If I didn’t have my son and I was sitting here in college, I might be out partying and not focusing on my schoolwork. I think back to four years ago when I was 18 and I wonder if I would have been able to have the drive and direction I have now. She thinks alot of moms are going back to school because there are resources for them to utilize.

I try to do my homework when I’m on campus because when I’m at home I need to be with my kid. I wouldn’t feel right saying ‘go to your room,’ just so I could get my homework done. It is difficult, you just need to find that medium, Ronnisha Bess said.

I call it break-work. When I have that half hour break in between classes I am definitely doing homework. If I have to go home and do homework, it is guaranteed not to get done, Kapper said.

One student, who didn’t give her name at the meeting, told a very heart-wrenching story about her delivery. She explained that she had a cesarian section during finals week and had to come back three days later to take her finals. If a student does have a medical issue with pregnancy, under Title 9, faculty members are required to treat pregnancy as an illness, although it is not an illness, Millhoff said. You don’t treat pregnancy as an illness, you treat it as a process, Larkins said.

The mothers were already brainstorming ideas of how they could get the rest of the university involved. They considered getting people from the Child Development Program to baby-sit their children while they held study groups during Finals Week. They also talked about the idea of allowing pregnant women to have designated parking spaces, similar to the mall. Another idea was to have someone come from the Financial Aid office to talk about available scholarships and awards that students with children can apply for.

A big concern of all who attended the meeting was breast-feeding. You shouldn’t have to pump in the bathroom, we should honor motherhood, Millhoff told a student who was at the meeting. Millhoff has already started to look at available areas on campus where a lactation room could be set-up so that mothers can pump when necessary.

Larkins adds that she is very excited about this organization because lots of young people never finish going to school because they don’t have enough money. This way we will be able to share our experiences and find out what works for other people.

The Counseling Center is hosting a Super Woman Support Group on Sept. 22 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. and every Tuesday of the fall semester after that in Simmons Hall room 306. For more information, mothers can call the Counseling Center at 330-972-7082 and ask to speak with either Shantee Foster or Donna McDonald. A second available option for mothers and fathers is available through Greenleaf Family Center. They will be holding meetings at Firestone Park Presbyterian Church on Thursday’s from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The first meeting will be Sept. 10. April Brewer can be contacted at 330-376-9494 ext. 221 for more information.

Questions regarding the Mothers Achieving More Academically organization can be directed to Pat Millhoff at 330-972-7008 or millhof@uakron.edu.

Call news writer Susann Schmitt:

330-972-7362

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