All Together Now

A New Community for Student Parents at Seattle Central

By Christina Nguyen

Originally published in the November 2014 issue. 

It’s tough to be both a student and a parent. And single-mother and Seattle Central student  Brenna Richart knows that first hand.

Richart’s typical morning consists of waking up and taking a shower, brewing coffee, running Lucas (her seven year-old son) to the bus while trying to gulp down her coffee, then getting ready to leave, and finally biking to school to actually start her day. This and much more has become a robotic routine since she decided to enroll at SCC back in spring of 2013.

“All of us [student parents] can use help,” Richart said. “School is hard enough and paying for it is another [issue].”

Seattle Central used to provide day care services for student parents until the child care center was closed down in 2011 due to budgeting issues. The International Student Programs office moved into the space vacated by the child care center and since then no equivalent service has filled the void.

Richart saw a vacuum in services and support for student parents at Seattle Central and became inspired to do something about it. She founded the Student-Parent Club at SCC last spring quarter and got the club officially established with the college this fall. She now serves as a club coordinator.

The club will serve as way for student parents to build community and advocate their interests and services that they need and want from the college. Its members are student parents or guardians of children.

“I’d like Student-Parent Club to become a foundation or program specifically for parents,” Richart said.

Richart hopes that it will lead to an established official program sponsored by the college composed of services that cater to the needs of students with families. Getting a physical meeting and gathering space is one of the eventual goals.

“The number one thing we need is support [from students and the college] to build it bigger,” said Richart. “We as student parents need some form of child care especially the ones on financial aid … Even just for two hours.”

“If it were free childcare, it would help immensely,” she added.

As part of her role as an organizer within the club, Richart spends time looking up useful resources for student parents such as stress management tips, community resources, and kid-friendly spaces such as coffee shops.

“Sometimes he [Lucas] needs me, and I just can’t always be there for him because of the hours of school work.”

Ever since the first meetings held in last summer  at Cal Anderson park, attendance has steadily risen as more, and more student parents become aware of the community that dwells within the college.

“We would all bring our kids to the park, the kids would play and the adults would talk about what we wanted to see,” said Richart.

The kids are stepping up too.

“My son helped me hand out flyers [about the club] to people passing by,” Richart said. “Even if they weren’t interested, they would grab one from him, smile and move along. [It is] a good way to recruit new members and get the word out while hanging out with my son and the parents’ children … Plus, my son is one of the cutest.”

The club has grown from one person to five people showing up at the most recent meeting on Thursday October 9th.

“I really appreciated the five people that showed up,” Richart said. “Even though it was only five people, we had a great meeting in expressing what we want to see this club become and ideas were pitched that helped guide what we exactly plan and want.”

Richart is hopefully that more people will start attending with increased awareness.

While the club is about advocating resources and services on campus, it also serves a means for collectively coping with the struggles of daily life by getting support from a community. Ultimately, it’s about being human.

“Just asking about how your day is going would help [student parents] a lot,” Richart said.

“It’s the beginning to something bigger, to create a sense of community to support future students that are parents.”

Students who have children and attend Seattle Central are highly encouraged to join. Meetings are held during the first Thursday of the month and third Tuesday at 1:00 PM in the Women’s Program Center at 907 E Pine.

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