Shenandoah University’s Campus Action Project: Empowering Moms, Empowering Minds

Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA

 

Empowering Moms, Empowering Minds: Single Moms and College Success

Overview:

Through two main initiatives the Shenandoah University CAP Team in Winchester, Virginia, addressed issues facing singles moms who want to attend college.

Description:

The Shenandoah University CAP team engaged in various community activities to inform single mothers about how four year college degree programs and how to overcome some of the barriers they face to achieving a degree. Student leaders – most of whom are single mothers – developed presentations for the outreach initiatives about the challenges and rewards of being a single mother and college student.

Materials

The Shenandoah University CAP team engaged in various community activities to inform single mothers about how four year college degree programs and how to overcome some of the barriers they face to achieving a degree. Student leaders – most of whom are single mothers – developed presentations for the outreach initiatives about the challenges and rewards of being a single mother and college student.

One outreach program consisted of a documentary screening (ABCs and SATs: College Life as a Single Mom – a ten minute film about a day in the life of one of the single mother student team members) and a roundtable discussion at Lord Fairfax Community College in March 2009. Eight mothers and their children attended. Free childcare was provided.

The other outreach program in March 2009 was a “family fun day” at Shenandoah University where local volunteer organizations (including the local AAUW branch), vendors, and children’s organizations created a fun and educational atmosphere for single mothers and their children. Families could visit tables sponsored by these organizations while the single mother CAP team members circulated among attendees, offering advice and distributing college material. Over 70 mothers and their children attended.

Both events led to mentoring relationships between single moms on the team with those at the community college and in the community. As of June 2009, four mothers had approached the team for help completing a college application.

The team also created and maintains a website and blog filled with information relevant to single mothers considering higher education.

In addition to their success reaching out to the community, an unexpected outcome of the project was the team’s impact on their own campus and in their own lives. Now their website will be included in the list of resources in admissions packages at their University and their activism on campus led to the conversion of one of the campus bathrooms into a family bathroom, complete with a changing table. Prior to each student’s involvement with the CAP team, most of them felt isolated on campus and unsupported, but now they have formed a tight-knit support group and are looking out for all single mother students on their campus.

 

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