By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer
Nanette Fritz recalled the time when she took Math 75X during her first year in Spring 2017 and became acquainted with a classmate who was a student parent.
The 39-year-old, who is a single parent of two daughters ages 9 and 11, expressed this to her classmate as they chatted in the bathroom while Cathy Wehrman, the coordinator and a counselor of the Student Parents Program (SPP) on campus, walked in and overheard their conversation. Wehrman recognized Fritz’s classmate as a student who uses the program and suggested that she introduce Fritz to the program.
“The next day I came and stopped by,” Fritz said. “I’m a single parent. I’ve always been looking for resources [and] benefits to help me, especially financially, [as a] single mom struggling with my two girls.”
The SPP provides services to all students with families on campus as long as the student is parenting a minor under the age of 18. Student parents can receive career and personal counseling, community referrals and resources, opportunities to attend workshops, presentations, and more. The program also extends assistance to grandparents who have custody of or are guardians to a student’s child.
Since her appointment with Wehrman, the now second-year student has been given suggestions on how she can balance out her classes while coping with her children. Fritz was able to receive child care recommendations such as the YMCA that could potentially benefit her family. Academically, Fritz was given tutoring support for classes that she struggled in, especially her Math 75X course.
Fritz shared that her financial obligations have been a setback for her college expenses and family, and because of this she was debating on whether to begin her second year this Fall 2017. Fortunately, Fritz was notified by the program that she had received two scholarships that she applied for along with approval of her Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which motivated her to return to school and complete her Math 75X course from the previous semester.
“They kind of just encouraged me to … retake the accuplacer [placement test],” Fritz said. “Well, I did. I went for it and retook it and it got me into Math 111 (laughs). So I think that’s a very good encouragement.”
With priority given to those in financial need, the program is working on reaching out to students on campus to inform them of the SPP. According to Wehrman, the program was able to identify approximately 700 KCC students through FAFSA who have stated that they are parents or guardians. In late September, a needs assessment was created and given out to FAFSA eligible students, including other students who may not have completed their FAFSA application yet. The program is servicing about 100 students but is hoping to expand its target audience to continue providing either quick assistance or intensive counseling.
“We just want to make sure that people can connect with us and come to us for different kinds of support they might need,” Wehrman said. “Our job is to just provide resources, guidance, but it’s ultimately the student who’s going to make their own best decision.”
Students may have formerly known the program as the Single Parents and Displaced Homemakers Program that originated in 1985, but after concerns that its name might have used unfriendly terms and as its funding source changed, it morphed into the Student Parents Program in 2010. Once the program was able to bring on board in February 2017 its second counselor, Brooke Conway, the SPP was then able to expand its services to provide assistance to all student families on campus.
As the program continues to extend a helping hand to student parents, Fritz said that seeking help from the program has motivated her to pursue a higher degree. Currently majoring in Education, she plans to transfer to UH Mānoa in the near future with the goal of either continuing her studies in Education or to pursue the idea of becoming an advising counselor.
“Speak out, ask around campus. I’m pretty sure there’s somebody out there who knows something,” Fritz said. “[The SPP] has really supported my schooling, my classes, and [finances].”
For more information on the Student Parents Program contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (808) 734-9504 or visit ʻIliahi 201. For interested students looking to join contact email@example.com or (808) 734-9504 to schedule an appointment or attend an information session.