Single mom starts organization for student parents

Tishauna Carrell,
Staff Writer

Audra Stance came to CSUEB in the fall of 2016 to pursue a degree in nursing. Not only does she work as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Kaiser Permanente, but like many other students, she is also a single mother to a nine-year-old girl.

Stance said one of the struggles of being a single parent is spending quality time with her kids. “It’s hard doing it by yourself,” Stance said. “Especially when you have a job, paying bills, going to school, having to deal with high cost of living and everything… you just gotta let your kids know it’s not easy but someone’s gotta do it,” said Stance.

Transferring from Merritt College in Oakland, the 34-year-old Stance was stunned to see that, unlike the community college, Cal State East Bay doesn’t provide day care services.

In August 2011, ASI shut down their Early Childhood Education Center, an on-campus preschool that provided for toddlers and infants. The termination of the program was due to excessive cost and low enrollment rates, according to a previous article by The Pioneer.

“Those are very important resources, that is how you help the community, you have to be diverse on who you serve,” Stance said. “[The] majority of the students are straight from high school, their parents aren’t attending with them, but people tend to forget there is an older crowd who are coming back [to school] trying to continue their education as well, most of the older crowd have children, so they need to accommodate.”

Although her grandmother assists with raising her daughter, Stance told the Pioneer that she wished CSUEB had more resources for single parents such as workshops, kid-friendly events, more financial assistance and a daycare. Stance decided she not only wanted to bring back day care services, she also wanted to provide kid-friendly activities on campus and more resources for student parents. She then took action and decided to start an organization to assist single parents on campus.

In October 2016, Stance filled out a “new organization” application online with Student Life and Leadership, an on-campus program that provides student organizations with resources and helps promote campus life.

On Nov. 28, Stances’ new organization, Single Moms Always Rise Together, or S.M.A.R.T., was established as a “special interest,” a type of group that focuses on hobbies or other interests outside of the classroom. On Jan. 19, she was notified by a Student Life advisor Dwayla Jourdan that S.M.A.R.T. would better qualify as an “Academic Organization.”

“Student Life and Leadership Programs has recognized S.M.A.R.T. as a student organization whose members are comprised of students, from various majors, who are uniting to create resources to address their unique situation as single mothers pursuing their degrees in higher education,” said Jourdan.

In less than two months, S.M.A.R.T. acquired almost 40 members, three of whom are single fathers, and 12 board officers.

The goal of S.M.A.R.T. is to provide a support system for student single parents by creating events at which parents can spend quality time with their children, network with other parents, exchange parenting techniques and hold academic workshops for parents. One of their major goals is to bring back on-campus day care services. Stance said she is concerned that the Cal State five percent tuition increase proposed by CSU Chancellor Timothy White might affect the club’s goal to get a daycare on campus.

The CSU Boards of Trustees in Long Beach announced that due to high enrollment rates, more classes are needed and students will pay an additional $270 per quarter and/or semester, according to a previous article by The Pioneer.

Despite the potential increase, Stance hopes to make S.M.A.R.T. a non-profit and to get a daycare on campus before she graduates from the nursing program.

“I’m gonna make sure, if that’s the last thing I do before I graduate from Cal State East Bay, is to make sure that there is a daycare on campus or off or more financial resources [for single parents]” said Stance.

Although S.M.A.R.T. was offered $100 for funding from CSUEB student government organization Associated Students Inc., she felt like that it wasn’t enough to get her club started, so she decided to start a fundraiser.

On Feb. 1, Stance hosted the group’s first event and fundraiser at Acqua E. Farina, an Italian restaurant in Hayward. Over 40 people attended and paid $35 to eat a three-course meal, which consisted of a salad, dinner and dessert.

From the fundraiser she raised over $500 and plans on using this money to make “S.M.A.R.T” T-shirts to be sold to the public. The restaurant donated 25 percent of what they made from her guests.