May 062010
Authors: Sharon Smaldone

Tammy Garton wakes up at 5:45 a.m. to pack lunches, get her kids ready for school and make breakfast. She is out the door by 7:40 a.m. for a full day of student-teaching and studying.

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, Garton is just one of an estimated 500 student parents at CSU, according to Jan Rastall, director of Adult Learner and Veteran Services at CSU.
Garton has three children who are ages 6, 7 and 8.

“I decided to get my degree because I felt that that was the best way to provide for my kids,” Garton said. She said she chose CSU because she lives in Fort Collins and liked the early childhood education program.

She will graduate next week with a degree in human development and family studies and a teaching license in early childhood education. After graduation, Garton hopes to get a job teaching preschool or kindergarten.

There are many extra challenges to being a student with children, she said. “I have to be there for them when they are sick — I am three times more likely to be missing classes,” Garton said.

Garton said she thinks it would be helpful for student parents like her if CSU offered more night classes and online courses so varying schedules could be accommodated.

“There’s a lot more schedules to juggle,” Garton said, since she must plan her schedule around her children’s schedules.

Freyja May, a junior social work major, is also a student mother. She has a 9-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. She said she chose to get her degree to get a better career.

“There wasn’t much I could do without a bachelor’s degree,” May said.
Like Garton, May said she also finds it challenging to work her schedule around her children’s needs. Last fall her daughter had H1N1.
“It was a bit of a struggle,” May said.

May has lived in Fort Collins for 20 years and chose CSU for the convenient location and the university experience.

“It wasn’t something I had when I was of traditional age,” May said.
After graduation, May said she hopes to be a family therapy counselor.
“It’s always just been interesting to me — how do people figure out how to co-exist?” May said. 

May tackles 15 credits a semester but is able to study and attend class while her kids are in school.

“I don’t know if there is ever an average day,” she said.

Many resources are available at CSU to help student parents in the struggle to get a degree and be a parent including scholarships, family nights, free athletics tickets for children of students and a lounge for students to study or relax in.

“Student parents are always in need of resources,” Rastall said. “We try to address some of those needs.”

_Staff writer Sharon Smaldone can be reached at _

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