“I’ve been a single mother since before my education began, and I’m still single parenting today.”
When I suddenly had to go to a shelter with my baby and toddler, both of whom I was breastfeeding, I had already registered to start courses for my bachelor’s degree. But the choice to go to university was taken from me because welfare doesn’t support university education.
I secured funding to attend community college for business after a rigorous, complex and rife “process” of interviews, job searches, and tests. I graduated from my business diploma with honours and a 4.0 GPA and got a full scholarship to do a bachelor’s in Community Development. I maintained my 4.0 GPA while single parenting my children, with an invisible disability, ongoing court battles, and dealing with the trials and traumas that come from single parenting, being low-income, and recovering from abuse.
My research has focused on low income/food insecure mother-baby dyads and the social determinants of health. I obtained a scholarship to support my Masters research and I’m planning to pursue a PhD in Sociology or Health Studies.
I love what I do and get asked to speak and be involved in various projects regularly. I’ve been a single mother since before my education began, and I’m still single parenting today.
Through all this, I was aware of what other women go through, of the compounded difficulties for women of colour, immigrants, those with other disabilities, and without various privileges that I had. So I’ve been an activist for women’s rights, mental health, and LGBTQ+ rights throughout my education.
I’ve fought for the needs of student parents like myself, including trying to bring childcare to my campus for several years, coordinating videos, panels, meetings and strategizing. I’ve created women mentoring and networking groups and written news articles about issues faced by mothers and student parents.
I frequently face criticism for furthering my education while single parenting, as if I am not focused enough on my children.
But knowing the statistics about children’s health outcomes, future income, education and wellbeing, and their connection to a mother’s education level, I soldier on for them, for myself, and for other mothers everywhere.
I’ve had many cheerleaders, usually other feminists and often those who have managed to obtain their education while parenting.