Creating a Better Future for Student Parents
A Seat at the Table with Chancellor Flores: Creating a Better Future for Student Parents: Tips from Advocate and Author, Nicole Lynn Lewis and San Antonio College student, Victoria Regalado
For more than a decade, Nicole Lynn Lewis has advocated for the four million college students across the country who are parents. When her daughter was an infant, Lewis enrolled in college and faced challenges navigating a system that she says was not designed with her experience in mind.
In 2010, Lewis became the founder and CEO of Generation Hope, a nonprofit that surrounds motivated teen parents and their children with the mentors, emotional support, and financial resources that they need to thrive as they pursue their education.
Lewis is the author of the memoir, "Pregnant Girl: A Story of Teen Motherhood, College, and Creating a Better Future for Young Families,” which The New York Times called required reading and NPR named a Best Book of 2021.
She has received various awards, including being honored as a CNN Hero, the national grand prize winner of the Roslyn S. Jaffe Award, and has been featured on major news outlets including “Good Morning America,” CNN, “NBC Nightly News,” and The Washington Post.
Lewis and San Antonio College student and mother, Victoria Regalado, recently took part in A Seat at the Table with Chancellor Dr. Mike Flores for a conversation on how to create a better future for students with children.
Across the Alamo Colleges District, approximately one out of every five of our student population are parents. The district supports student parents by providing resources and support services to students balancing a family and pursuing their educational and career goals.
On navigating college as a parent and how that has changed over the years
Lewis: Over the four years that I was navigating my degree, I was really navigating a system that was not designed with my experience in mind at all. Thinking about the challenges of being a student and a parent at the same time, dealing with the disparities that exist across higher education for students of color, students with low income - on top of being a parenting student… I was feeling so much of that. I launched Generation Hope in 2010 and we have been doing this work for 12 years now, advocating across the country for parenting college students and teen parents. I wish I could say it has changed so much since I graduated in 2003, but there are some things that have not changed and some things that have not changed. I think the biggest changes have been just how much more expensive it is to go to college now than it was 20 years ago. When I was in school and similarly the cost of child care has skyrocketed since I was a college student, the very real question is would I have been able to graduate today in the way that I was 20 years ago as a young mom?
On how colleges can support student parents
Lewis: The crux of student-parent work is how do we remove barriers? How do we really make sure that students are able to access the resources and supports that exist? Sometimes we will see that institutions create resources with all the best intentions, but they're hard to access and they're difficult to find out about. Wherever you sit within an institution you play a vital role in removing barriers creating resources and making sure that students with children can access those resources.
On advice for parents seeking to enter college
Regalado: You do not have to let being a parent stop you from going to school. And when you do make that decision, take advantage of every opportunity and every resource.